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BACKGROUNDER

Slips, Trips and Falls Target of Blitz

Inspectors will focus on slips, trips and falls hazards at industrial and construction workplaces in February and March.

The increased enforcement is part of the province’s Safe At Work Ontario enforcement initiative, launched in June 2008.

The Ministry of Labour inspectors will check that employers are complying with requirements under the Occupational Health and Safety Act and its regulations.

Over the past decade, incidents involving slips, trips and falls have resulted in serious injuries and deaths at industrial and construction workplaces.

In 2011, about 41 per cent of deaths and 60 per cent of injuries involved falls from heights at construction projects.

In that same year, about 20 per cent of workplace safety insurance claims for lost-time injuries (injuries involving missed time at work) were due to slips, trips and falls, according to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board.

Workers can be at increased risk of falling due to:

  • Poor lighting, slippery surfaces, inadequate “housekeeping” (a messy, cluttered work area) and other such deficient working conditions
  • Missing protective devices (e.g. guardrails)
  • Unguarded openings in floors, work surfaces or walls of buildings or other structures
  • equipment that is misused or in poor condition (e.g. ladders, scaffolds, and suspended access equipment)
  • Lack of appropriate personal protective equipment (equipment not available, not used or misused)
  • Poor work practices (e.g. unclear job procedures, lack of training,
  • or workers rushing to meet deadlines)

Blitz Focus

Industrial inspectors will visit a range of workplaces during the blitz, including:

  • Restaurants
  • Tourism, recreation and hospitality sites
  • Food, beverage and tobacco products industries
  • Industrial service operations
  • Broader education sector workplaces
  • Vehicle sales and service industry

Construction inspectors will visit:

  • Construction projects
  • Buildings where window cleaning is taking place
  • Diving operations where workers are exposed to fall hazards

The inspectors will target workplaces:

  • Known to have a high-frequency of injuries related to slips, trips and falls
  • Where complaints have been received
  • Where there is a history of non-compliance

Inspectors will take enforcement action, as appropriate, in response to any violations of the Occupational Health and Safety Act and its regulations.

Priorities

Inspectors will focus on the following key priorities:

Employer Duties: Inspectors will check that employers have policies and programs in place to protect workers from slips, trips and falls. This includes protecting workers from falls from heights and slipping or tripping at the workplace. Inspectors will also check that employers are providing appropriate access and egress to work areas and ensuring ladder safety. They will also check that employers have emergency rescue procedures for workers who fall or whose fall arrest equipment is activated.

Safe Work Practices: Inspectors will check that employers have safe work practices, including assessing slip, trip and fall risks and responding immediately to any hazards. They will also check for policies and procedures that ensure an investigation takes place into all fall-related incidents. As well, they will check for policies that outline the roles of workplace parties for ensuring good “housekeeping” practices to keep workplaces free of tripping hazards.

Falls From Ladders, Mobile Stands and Platforms: Inspectors will check that workers work in a safe manner on ladders, stands and platforms. They will also check that the ladders, stands and platforms have been properly assessed for hazards, properly designed, built and maintained and placed on firm footing.

Falls From Heights: Inspectors will check that fall protection equipment and/or guardrails or other equipment is being used for work on platforms, raised floors, mezzanines, balconies or other work at heights.

Same-Level Slips and Trips: Inspectors will check that floors and other surfaces are kept free of obstructions, hazards (such as oily or greasy floors) and accumulations of refuse, snow or ice. Special attention will be paid to walkways, aisles and other areas where there is pedestrian traffic

Ergonomics: Inspectors will check that workers are performing tasks and interacting with their workplace in a manner that prevents slips, trips and falls. This will include checking workers’ posture, use of force and other ergonomic factors in work tasks. For example, inspectors will check that workers carry an object so their view is not obstructed or they work on a ladder in a manner that protects them from losing their balance.

Personal Protective Equipment and Safety Devices: Inspectors will check that fall protection equipment is being properly selected, used and maintained for tasks. They will also check on the availability, adequacy and condition of this equipment.

Worker Training: Inspectors will check that workers are properly trained and supervised to prevent injuries and deaths from fall hazards. They will also check that workers know their right to refuse unsafe work.

Matt Blajer, Communications Branch, 416-326-7405

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