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BACKGROUNDER

Safety Blitz Targets Slips, Trips and Falls

  • Issued: February 9, 2015
  • Content last reviewed: February 2015
  • See also: Bulletin

Inspectors will target hazards involving slips, trips and falls at industrial sector workplaces from February 2 to March 15, 2015.

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

During the blitz, Ministry of Labour inspectors will check that employers are taking appropriate action to assess and address these hazards, as required by the:

Over the past decade, there have been a number of serious incidents involving workers falling at industrial workplaces in Ontario.

In 2013, there were 11 work-related deaths from falls in industrial workplaces, the majority of which were falls from some height of varying degree (e.g. roof, ladders, scaffold or other elevated work surface).

In that same year, just over 70 per cent of fall-related injuries in all sectors were due to "same level falls" (falls on floors and other surfaces) in Ontario. Falls from heights accounted for almost 29 per cent of fall-related injuries and many of the work-related deaths in Ontario.

Workers can be at increased risk of falling due to:

  • inadequate lighting, slippery surfaces, poor "housekeeping" (a messy, cluttered work area) and other such deficient working conditions
  • unguarded mezzanines, balconies, openings in floors, work surfaces 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, poor work practices (e.g. unclear job procedures, or workers rushing to meet deadlines)
  • lack of information and instruction
  • improper footwear

Blitz focus

Industrial inspectors will visit a range of workplaces in the industrial sector, including:

  • restaurants
  • retail
  • food, beverage and tobacco products plants
  • vehicle sales and service workplaces
  • arborists/landscapers workplaces
  • wood and metal fabrication plants

In particular, inspectors will target workplaces:

  • known to have a high-frequency of injuries involving 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 OHSA and its regulations.

Priorities

Inspectors will focus on the following key priorities:

Policies and Programs: Inspectors will check that employers have policies and programs in place to protect workers from slips, trips and falls such as requirements for good “housekeeping” practices and ensuring that an investigation is conducted when there are fall-related incidents. They will also check that employers have emergency rescue procedures for workers who fall or whose fall arrest equipment is activated.

Access and egress: Inspectors will check that employers are providing appropriate access and egress to work areas.

Safe Work Practices: Inspectors will check that employers have developed safe work practices, including assessing slip, trip and fall risks. They will also check to see if workers are following safe work practices, for example, cleaning up spills and safely using ladders, mobile stands and platforms.

Falls from ladders, mobile stands and platforms: Inspectors will check that employers have assessed ladders, stands and platforms for hazards, and that this equipment is maintained and placed on firm footing when in use.

Same-Level Slips and Trips: Inspectors will check that floors and other work 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.

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

Falls from trucks/loads: Inspectors will check that workers are using safe work practices where they may be exposed to the hazard of falling from the beds of trucks, trailers or the top of loads.

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

Personal Protective Equipment and Safety Devices: Inspectors will check that when employers use fall protection equipment, it is maintained in good condition.

Worker Training: Inspectors will check that workers receive information, instruction and supervision to prevent injuries and deaths from slip, trip and fall hazards including the right to refuse unsafe work.

Craig MacBride, Minister’s Office, 416-326-7709
William Lin, Communications Branch, 416-326-7405

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