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BACKGROUNDER

Blitz To Focus On Construction Supervisors


As part of the Ontario's Safe At Work Ontario strategy, supervisors will be the focus of a Ministry of Labour blitz at construction projects across the province this fall.

Ministry inspectors will check to ensure supervisors are carrying out their duties under the Occupational Health and Safety Act and Regulations for Construction Projects.

There are generally two types of supervisors on construction projects — those who supervise the entire project and those (sometimes called "foremen") who supervise parts of the project or groups of workers.

Supervisors must ensure workers are complying with the legislation. They must also comply with other duties such as:

  • Having a competent person act in their place at all times when they're not available to do so themselves.
  • Taking every reasonable precaution in the circumstances to ensure a worker's protection.
  • Ensuring workers are informed of potential or actual dangers in the workplace and of the constructor's written emergency procedures.
  • Inspecting onsite buildings, structures, installations, systems and equipment on a weekly or more frequent basis.

Inadequate supervision can lead to serious injuries and death. By far, most problems involving inadequate supervision occur in the construction sector. Between April 1, 2011 and March 31, 2012, more than 95 per cent of supervisors who were convicted and fined for offences under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, were in the construction sector.

Violations involving supervisors were among the top 10 orders issued by ministry inspectors under the Occupational Health and Safety Act in 2011.

Inadequate supervision can lead to hazards such as:

  • Poor maintenance of personal protective equipment.
  • Lack of warning signs for workers about hazards in the workplace.
  • Unsanitary wash up and toilet facilities.
  • Accumulation of debris.
  • Poor access and egress to work areas.
  • Lack of information, instruction and supervision to new and young workers on the job.

Targeted Sites

Inspectors will visit construction projects:

  • Identified as being high-priority due to potential hazards arising from inadequate supervision.
  • Where complaints have been received.
  • Where there is a history of non-compliance.

Inspectors may take enforcement action, as appropriate, in response to any violations of the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the construction regulation.

Priorities

Inspectors will focus on the following key priorities involving a supervisor's roles and responsibilities:

Competency — Inspectors will check that construction projects are supervised at all times by a competent supervisor or a competent person appointed by the supervisor.

Ensuring worker compliance — Inspectors will check to see if supervisors are ensuring that workers are working in a safe manner, including using any required protective measures and procedures.

Inspections — Inspectors will check that supervisors are conducting, at least weekly, inspections of buildings, structures, installations, systems and equipment, as well as access and egress at construction projects.

Providing safety information — Inspectors will check that supervisors are advising workers of any potential or actual danger to their health and safety on the construction project.

New and Young Workers — Inspectors will check that supervisors are informing new and young workers about potential or actual dangers at the construction site. They will also check that supervisors are ensuring these workers use any equipment, protective devices and clothing required by the employer.

Matt Blajer, Communications Branch, 416-326-7405

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