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BACKGROUNDER

Warehouse Hazards Focus of Blitz

Inspectors will target warehouse hazards during a province-wide blitz in February and March 2014.

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

Ministry of Labour inspectors will visit warehouses and retail establishments with storage areas.

Warehouses are commercial buildings used by manufacturers, importers/exporters, retailers/wholesalers, transport companies and other businesses to store goods, raw materials and other commodities.

Inspectors will check that employers, supervisors and workers are complying with requirements under the Occupational Health and Safety Act and its regulations.

Workers can be seriously injured or even die as a result of incidents involving warehouse hazards.

Between January 1, 2006 and December 31, 2012, three workers died and 59 others received serious injuries as a result of incidents involving racking and storage.

During a racking and storage system blitz in November 2011, inspectors issued more than 3,000 orders under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. This included 118 stop work orders.

The most commonly issued orders involved an employer's duty to ensure equipment, materials and protective devices were maintained in good condition. The inspectors made 1,167 visits to 977 warehouses.

Between April 1, 2009 and March 31, 2012, three workers died and 73 were critically injured in incidents involving forklifts/lift trucks.

In addition, between Jan. 1, 2000 and May 29, 2013, 11 workers died and 80 workers were critically injured in incidents involving loading dock work.

Hazards

Warehouse hazards can include:

  • partial or total failure/collapse of racking systems
  • material falling through the back of racks
  • workers being struck by forklifts
  • workers driving forklifts off of loading docks
  • workers being struck by transport trucks outside the loading dock area
  • musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) hazards from manual material handling
  • slips, trips and falls

Blitz Focus

Ministry inspectors will visit a range of warehouses and storage areas. In particular, they will focus on warehousing operations:

  • with a high incidence of lost-time injuries
  • not previously visited by the ministry
  • 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:

Racking and Storage Systems
Inspectors will check employers are properly maintaining and repairing racking and storage systems. They will also check that employers are providing instruction on the safe operation of lifting devices and that workers are properly supervised when operating a lifting device. Inspector will also check that employers are keeping aisles free of obstructions, lighting is adequate and pallets are in good condition.

Loading Dock Areas
Inspectors will check employers are protecting workers from traffic hazards involving vehicles and material handling equipment. They will also check that employers are immobilizing and securing trucks and trailers to prevent accidental movement when workers are in the area. They will also check that employers are ensuring protecting workers from slip, trip and fall hazards.

Lifting Devices and Forklifts
Inspectors will check employers are maintaining equipment in good condition to prevent mechanical or operational failure. They will also check employers are ensuring lifting devices are operated by competent workers who have appropriate training, knowledge and experience.

Slips, Trips and Falls
Inspectors will check employers have safe work practices, including assessing the risk of slip, trip and fall risks and responding immediately to any hazards. They will also check employers are ensuring workers work in a safe manner on ladders, stands and platforms. They will also check employers are keeping floors and other surfaces free of obstructions, oil or grease hazards and accumulations of refuse, snow and/or ice. This is especially important for walkways, aisles and other areas with pedestrian traffic.

Mezzanine Floors
Inspectors will check employers are providing safe access and egress for workers on mezzanine floors. They will also check employers are providing guardrails or suitable barriers to control fall hazards on mezzanine floors.

Musculoskeletal Disorders
Inspectors will check that employers are dealing with MSDs hazards from manual material handling.

Bruce Skeaff, Communications Branch, 416-326-7405

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