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Enforcement Blitz Targets Conveyor Hazards

  • Issued: November 1, 2010
  • Content last reviewed: November 2010

Ministry of Labour inspectors will focus on lockout and guarding hazards involving conveyor systems from November 1 to December 31 2010 during stepped-up activity at industrial workplaces across Ontario.

The blitz is part of the province’s Safe At Work Ontario strategy, launched in June 2008.

Guarding and lockout hazards involving conveyor systems are a potential problem at any industrial workplace in Ontario that uses this equipment.

Conveyor-related injuries occur less often than other types of injuries in industrial workplaces. However, the injuries that do occur tend to be more severe.

Two workers died between 2005 and 2008 in conveyor incidents, according to Ministry of Labour data. In that same period, 48 workers were seriously injured, according to Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) statistics.

Between 2005 and 2008, workers missed an average of about 68 days due to a conveyor injury, according to WSIB lost-time injury data.

The total number of workdays lost was 74,459. The WSIB’s total cost for these injuries was more than $7.3 million.

The most common activities in which injuries and deaths occurred involved cleaning a drum or other part of a conveyor, conveyor maintenance, regular activities such as sorting or packing near a conveyor and recovering a jammed item from an unguarded pinch point hazard.

Inspectors will take a “zero tolerance” approach to any contraventions found under the Occupational Health and Safety Act and its regulations.

Blitz Focus

Inspectors will focus on sectors in which conveyors are used. These will include:

  • Farming operations
  • Large bakeries
  • Food and beverage manufacturers
  • Waste recycling
  • Cement plants
  • Auto sector
  • Printing sector
  • Soil screening operations for landscaping
  • Saw mills
  • Chemical plants
  • Pharmaceutical plants
  • Automotive plants
  • Computer plants
  • Electronic plants

In particular, inspectors will target establishments:

  • Known to have conveyors
  • Known to have hazardous processes and equipment;
  • Where complaints have been received; and
  • Where there is a poor compliance history

Priorities

Inspectors will focus on the following key priorities:

  • Guarding: Inspectors will check for pinch points and other hazardous locations lacking guarding devices on conveyors. Guarding is typically required in locations such as power transmission interfaces, nip points, shear points (where a moving conveyor part meets or passes near a stationary point such as a wall) and spill points (where material could spill from a conveyor).
  • Locking and Blocking: When it is necessary to open or remove guards, workers must follow lockout procedures to prevent injury from the conveyor starting. Lockout 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 conveyor belt from moving under its own power due to tension on the belt.
  • Musculosketal Disorders (MSDs): Inspectors will check that workers are not exposed on an ongoing basis to things such as repetitive work, forceful exertions such as heavy lifting and carrying, awkward postures and vibrating equipment that can affect the bones, joints, ligaments and other soft tissues. These types of activities can result in MSDs, which are injuries and disorder of the muscles, tendons and nerves.

Safe At Work Ontario

Sector- and hazard-specific inspection blitzes are an important feature of Ontario’s Safe At Work strategy. There is no acceptable rate of injury in Ontario workplaces.

Safe At Work Ontario is the Ministry of Labour’s workplace health and safety strategy focusing on:

  • Enforcement
  • Compliance and
  • Partnership

Since being launched in June 2008, the province’s team of more than 400 safety inspectors has made more than 140,000 workplace visits, issued more than 200,000 compliance orders (including more than 10,000 orders to stop dangerous work) and conducted 16 proactive inspection blitzes across all sectors.