May 4, 2012
Ontario Labour official reveals details of enforcement blitzes targetting construction sites
The Ontario Ministry of Labour plans several enforcement blitzes over the next year, where inspectors will be sent to workplaces in target industries, including construction.
Tower cranes and mobile cranes will be the focus of an enforcement blitz in July and August, said Sophie Dennis, assistant deputy minister for the operations division at the labour ministry.
Dennis revealed details of the blitzes May 1 during a presentation at Partners in Prevention, a conference and exposition hosted by Health and Safety Ontario at the International Centre in Mississauga, Ontario.
Dennis said last year’s enforcement blitzes, some of which targeted constructors, included 9,000 visits to work sites and the issue of 26,000 orders.
New and young workers will be the target of a workplace inspection blitz starting this month and continuing through August, she said, while in June, inspectors will conduct a blitz focusing on the hazards of being struck by objects.
“Supervisor engagement in construction” will be the topic of a new blitz in September to October, Dennis said. She described the patterns ministry officials have found in their blitzes to an audience of about 150.
For example, Dennis said, in an inspection blitz focusing on cranes last year, the top three categories of orders issued pertained to: erection, inspection and testing; fall protection; and electrical safety.
Electrical safety was the focus of another presentation at Partners in Prevention.
Doug Crawford, chief public safety officer for the Electrical Safety Authority and a former deputy fire marshal, said electricians sometimes underestimate the hazard of electrical shock and fires.
“Many electrical workers consider low voltage contact just a part of the job,” he said. But, recent research indicates some medical effects of low voltage shocks, which can take months to detect, can include irregular heartbeat, speech impairment, difficulty walking, numbness, nightmares, memory loss and weakness.
Crawford cited examples of accidents in which electrical workers were seriously injured or killed. In one case, he said, an apprentice attempting to connect a conductor to a panel was electrocuted.
In that case, he said, the power had not been disconnected because the crew did not want to shut down the job site for a five-minute job.
Although there has been an overall decrease in Ontario in the number of electrical-related occupational electrical serious injuries and fatalities, there has been in increase in the number of electrical workers seriously injured or killed on the job.
Crawford presented statistics collected by both the ESA and coroner’s records indicate that between 2000 and 2004, 18 electrical workers were critically injured or killed on the job. That number jumped to 34 in the period of 2005-09.
Health and Safety Ontario is comprised of the Infrastructure Health and Safety Association, Public Services Health and Safety Association, Workplace Safety North and Workplace Safety and Prevention Services.
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