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Ontario to conduct health and safety inspection blitz for industrial sector this fall


September 9, 2019
By Workplace Safety North

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September 9, 2019 – From Oct. 1 to Dec. 27, the Ontario Ministry of Labour is conducting a province-wide health and safety inspection blitz on musculoskeletal disorders and respiratory hazards in all sectors.

“Phase 1 of the inspection blitz involves assistance from the four provincial health and safety associations to help educate employers and supervisors about these issues to help prepare them for a ministry visit,” says Paul Andre, president and chief executive officer of Workplace Safety North (WSN).

Workplace Safety North is co-hosting a webinar with the Ministry of Labour for the industrial sector on Sept. 23. Employers and supervisors can register at workplacesafetynorth.ca/events.

Musculoskeletal disorders top injury in the workplace
Musculoskeletal hazards such as high forces, awkward postures and repetitive motions are commonly found when workers are required to lift, carry, push, pull or lower materials or even other people.

Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are the top lost-time injury reported to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB). In 2017, MSDs represented approximately one-third of all accepted WSIB lost-time claims, and in Ontario, there were more than:

  • 19,000 claims
  • 462,000 days lost from work
  • $72 million in direct WSIB costs

The health and safety inspection blitz focuses on hazards that may lead to MSDs during manual materials handling and client handling activities and on helping workplaces eliminate or control those hazards.

Industrial inspectors will check that:

  • employers have provided training to workers on safe manual materials handling practices
  • items are being manually handled in a safe manner
  • items are stored so that they can be placed or withdrawn in a safe manner
  • handling items while the worker is on a ladder is being performed in a safe manner
  • obstructions and/or hazards on the floor are not interfering with manual materials handling activities

Respiratory hazards can cause occupational disease
Between 2008 and 2017, long latency illnesses – illnesses in which there is a long delay between exposure to a disease-causing agent and the appearance of disease symptoms – accounted for the largest proportion of allowed Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) benefit costs.

Seventy per cent of allowed long latency illness WSIB claims over the past 10 years come from: lung cancer, pleural plaques, mesothelioma, asbestosis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which are all associated with respiratory exposures.

Cancer Care Ontario and the Occupational Cancer Research Centre estimate that exposure to asbestos, diesel engine exhaust, crystalline silica and welding fumes cause approximately 1,300 cancer cases a year in Ontario.

In industrial establishment workplaces, inspectors will focus on potential respiratory hazards including:

  • Vapours (for example, from solvents)
  • Fumes (for example, welding fumes)
  • Particulate (for example, from diesel emissions)

All of them are referred to as respiratory hazards when they can make a worker sick or die from being inhaled.