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BACKGROUNDER

Industrial Workplace Hazards Focus of Blitz

  • Issued: October 24, 2014
  • Content last reviewed: October 2014
  • See also: Bulletin

Inspectors will mainly target hazards involving machines not properly guarded, locked out or blocked during a six-week blitz of industrial workplaces across Ontario this fall.

Ministry of Labour inspectors will visit a range of workplaces in the industrial sector between November 3 and December 16, 2014. They will check that employers, supervisors and workers are complying with requirements under the Occupational Health and Safety Act and its regulations.

Machine guarding, lockout and blocking refer to safeguards designed to prevent access to moving parts of machinery and to ensure machines do not move unexpectedly and endanger workers during maintenance, repairs and installation of equipment.

Workers can suffer serious injuries such as amputation of limbs or death if machines have improper or missing guards or if improper lockout procedures are used.

In 2012, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board received the following claims from workers for lost-time injuries (LTIs) – injuries that resulted in workers having to take time off work:

  • LTI claims from 1,976 workers who were caught in or compressed by equipment
  • LTI claims from 305 workers who were rubbed or abraded by friction, pressure or jarred by vibration
  • LTI claims from 367 workers who had body parts amputated.

In 2013, 17 per cent or 2,737 of all orders issued by Ministry of Labour inspectors under the Regulations for Industrial Establishments were for machine guarding and lockout violations.

During the blitz, inspectors will also check on the workplaces’ internal responsibility system, which involves internal roles and policies aimed at making employers, supervisors and workers responsible for their own health and safety at workplaces.

They will also check for hazards involving musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) and exposure to chemicals.

Hazards

Hazards involving unguarded machines and improper lock out and blocking can include worker exposure to:

  • pinch points and in-running nip hazards that are created when two or more mechanical parts rotate in opposite directions in close proximity to one another. If part of a worker’s body (such as hair, hand or limb) or clothing contacts the nip point, the worker can be drawn into the machine resulting in serious injury or death
  • moving parts if equipment is not properly locked and blocked during maintenance and repair.

MSDs can be caused by workers engaging in repetitive motions and awkward postures when working with equipment.

Occupational disease can result if workers are exposed through skin contact and inhalation to metalworking fluids and degreasing solvents.

Blitz Focus

Ministry inspectors will visit a range of workplaces in the industrial sector. In particular, inspectors will pay attention to workplaces in the following sub-sectors:

  • wood and metal fabrication
  • manufacturing
  • chemical and plastics
  • automotive
  • sawmills
  • building supply centres
  • food beverage and tobacco
  • pulp and paper
  • textiles and printing.

The blitz will focus on workplaces:

  • known to have machinery
  • known to have hazardous processes and equipment
  • where complaints have been received
  • where there is a poor compliance history.

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:

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

Locking and Blocking: Inspectors will check that employers have ensured workers follow lockout procedures to prevent machines from starting when they are opened or when guarding devices are removed. Ideally, equipment should be designed so repairs and maintenance are conducted without workers having to reach into dangerous spots and without the need to remove guards and other protective devices. Lockout procedures generally involve bringing the machine to a complete stop and locking out all its power sources. Inspectors will also check that employers have ensured machinery is blocked with physical barriers such as blocks of wood or metal to prevent it or material from falling or moving when the machinery or material is temporarily opened and/or elevated to enable workers to work in the area or pass through.

Internal Responsibility System: Inspectors will evaluate the workplace’s internal responsibility system to see if health and safety representatives or Joint Health and Safety Committees are in place, where appropriate, and that they are functioning as required by the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

Other Hazards: Inspectors will check that employers are protecting workers from exposure to MSDs and exposure through skin contact and inhalation to metalworking fluids and degreasing solvents.

Craig MacBride, Minister’s Office, 416-326-7709
Bruce Skeaff, Communications Branch, 416-326-7405

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