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BACKGROUNDER

Blitz To Focus On Manufacturers

  • Issued: September 28, 2012
  • Content last reviewed: September 2012
  • See also: Bulletin

Manufacturing workplaces will be visited this fall, as part of the Ontario's Safe At Work Ontario strategy.

Ministry inspectors will check on hazards involving machine guard and lockout devices, musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), workplace violence and harassment, and chemical and noise exposure. They will check that employers, supervisors and workers are carrying out their duties under the Occupational Health and Safety Act and Regulations for Industrial Establishments.

Improper or missing guards or other safety devices and improper lockout procedures can result in serious injuries, amputations of limbs and even death. Exposure to noise and MSD hazards can also result in injuries. Chemical exposure can lead to both injuries and occupational illness.

In 2009, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) received 2,171 compensation claims for lost-time injuries (LTIs) due to incidents in which workers were caught in, or crushed by, equipment.

In that same year, the WSIB received 427 claims for lost-time injuries caused by workers' contact with machines.

In 2009, the WSIB also received 361 claims for workers who had limbs amputated by moving parts of machines.

Machine hazards can include worker exposure to:

  • Hazardous "pinch points" (any point where a body part could be caught between moving or moving and stationary parts on a machine) and
  • Exposure to hazardous motion if equipment is not properly locked and blocked during maintenance and repair

MSDs may be caused by repetitive motions and awkward postures when working with equipment.

Chemical exposure can occur if chemicals are not properly labelled resulting in workers not wearing proper personal protective equipment (i.e. protective gloves or respiratory protection) when working with hazardous chemicals. Exposure can also occur if the ventilation is inadequate to control chemical emissions from manufacturing processes.

Examples of noise exposure can involve machinery and equipment that generates high levels of noise.

Hazards involving workplace violence and harassment can include a worker striking or pushing another worker.

Workplaces to be visited

Inspectors will visit manufacturing workplaces:

  • known to have a high-frequency of injuries related to machine guarding, lockout and other hazards
  • where complaints have been received
  • where there is a history of non-compliance

Inspectors will focus on the following manufacturing sub-sectors:

  • automotive
  • food and beverage
  • wood and metal fabrication
  • textiles and printing
  • chemical, rubber and plastics and
  • ceramics
  • logging (sawmills)
  • pulp and paper

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:

Inspectors will check on:

Guarding: Inspectors will check that pinch points and other hazardous locations on equipment have guarding devices. Guarding is typically required in locations where there are moving parts, in-running nip hazards or pinch points, such as power transmission interfaces and shear points.

Locking Out and Blocking: Inspectors will check that workers are following lock out procedures to prevent machines from starting when they are opened or when guarding devices are removed, such as when machines or equipment are being maintained, cleaned, or repaired. Equipment should be designed so repairs and maintenance are conducted without having to reach into dangerous spots and without the need to remove guards and other protective devices. Lock out procedures typically involve bringing the machine to a complete stop and disconnecting all its power sources. Blocking is an extra step that must be carried out to prevent the equipment from moving if there could be residual energy that has not been dissipated.

Maintenance: Inspectors will check that equipment is maintained in good condition and that damaged components on a machine are repaired or replaced.

Training and Supervision: Inspectors will check that employers are providing appropriate information and supervision to workers such as training on proper guarding and on lock out procedures.

Other Hazards: Inspectors will check that employers are protecting workers from exposure to noise, chemical and musculoskeletal disorder (MSDs) hazards. They will also check that employers have developed a policy for workplace violence and harassment, and a program to implement the policy and provide the worker information and instruction on the policy and program.

Matt Blajer, Communications Branch, 416-326-7405

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