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BACKGROUNDER

Personal Protective Equipment Focus of Enforcement Blitz


  • Issued: October 17, 2011
  • Content last reviewed: October 2011
  • See also: Bulletin

Ministry of Labour inspectors will check on personal protective equipment at Ontario workplaces in the industrial and health care sectors in October.

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

Inspectors will focus on hazards involving the choice, use and maintenance of personal protective equipment. Workers using inappropriate or poorly maintained equipment are at risk of injury and illness.

Personal protective equipment acts as a barrier to guard workers against hazards such as blows to the body, loud noise, heat, chemicals and infection. The equipment includes protective clothing, helmets, shoes, goggles, respirators and other safety gear worn by workers.

Background

Thousands of workers have lost time at work due to incidents that could have been prevented if they wore proper personal protective equipment.

In 2010, 1,075 workers received injuries that, in some cases, caused temporary or permanent vision loss due to impacts with objects.

In that same year, 1,515 workers received head injuries due to impacts with objects and 1,120 workers suffered foot injuries caused by crushing, puncturing or dousing with hazardous substances.

In many cases, the injured workers were wearing improper eye, head or foot protection or no protection at all.

Workers need to wear personal protective equipment when they are at risk of:

  • Eye injury due to possible flying particles, dust, vapours, chemicals or intense light sources
  • Head injury due to possible falling or flying objects, fixed object blows or exposed energized electrical conductors, or
  • Foot injury due to possible falling or rolling objects, sharp objects or exposed energized electrical conductors.

Blitz Focus

Ministry of Labour inspectors will pay particular attention to workplaces in the following sectors:

  • Wood & metal fabrication
  • Vehicle sales and service
  • Food & beverage
  • Wholesalers
  • Education
  • Hospitals
  • Long term care homes, and
  • Homes for residential care (retirement homes)

In industrial workplaces, inspectors will focus on head, eye and foot protection. They may also address other types of personal protective equipment, including fall, respiratory, skin and hearing protection.

In health care workplaces, inspectors will focus on head, eye, face, respiratory, hearing, hand and foot protective equipment for non-clinical staff in dietary, housekeeping, maintenance, central sterile supply and laundry departments.

Inspectors will take enforcement action, as appropriate, for any contraventions found under the Occupational Health and Safety Act and its regulations.

Priorities

Inspectors will focus on the following key priorities:

  • Selection: Inspectors will check that employers and supervisors’ selection of personal protective equipment is appropriate for the hazard. They will also check that the equipment is providing an appropriate level of protection for the worker. For example, inspectors may ask supervisors why a particular type of equipment is being used as opposed to other types.
  • Use: Inspectors will check that employers and supervisors are instructing workers on the proper use of required personal protective equipment. They will also check that workers are using the required personal protective equipment.
  • Care: Inspectors will check that employers and supervisors are properly maintaining the required personal protective equipment. Inspectors will also check on the state of repair.

Matt Blajer, Communications Branch, 416-326-7405

ontario.ca/labour-news
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