We teach young children the difference between telling and tattling. A Ministry of Labour inspector can teach us similar lessons.
For example, at our June SIG, Ministry of Labour inspector Chris Vasey suggested that employers call a Ministry of Labour inspector to come and issue a ticket to an employee! (Of course, the employer should have all their ducks in a row and have made sure it did everything possible to encourage the employee to comply with the safety procedures, including telling them the fine amounts for non-compliant behaviours!) Non-compliant employees will cost you down the line and the employer will be on the hook for any infractions.
Machine guarding it is being looked at again by the Ministry this year. The best rule of thumb is to add a guard if there is access to something. The test is access, not whether someone would do that. (We all know that people will do the darnedest things.) For a new install, the manufacturer’s documents are probably sufficient, but any alteration to or movement of the equipment will require a new pre-start safety review (PSR). It’s important to pay attention to the contents of the PSR—is the report an actual clearance or is it a list of problems that need to be addressed?
Another focus this year is struck-by assessments. While this applies mostly to material handling and logistics, it is best to look across the entire facility. Traffic assessments of forklifts are an obvious place to start. During your safety review you can look of the following: exclusive aisleways, traffic rules, mirrors on blind corners, stop signs, proximity of workstations to aisleways, PPE such as high-res vests, and whether it is a habit for drivers and their co-workers to catch each other’s eyes at intersections.
There were few other interesting takeaways. The first is a caution not to rely on a random inspection as proof that your safety program is functioning properly. You may still find that an accident investigation uncovers hidden issues because they entail a harder look at the safety procedures within your plant.
Noise will be receiving added emphasis in the upcoming year. The new noise regulations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act was approved in December 2015. The regulation came into effect July 1, 2016 with the following key changes:
New Noise Regulation:
- prescribing, for workers exposed to noise, a maximum time-weighted exposure limit of 85 decibels over an eight-hour work shift
- requiring employers to put in place measures to reduce workers’ exposure based on a “hierarchy of controls”, which could include engineering controls, work practices, and the use of personal protective equipment in the form of hearing protection devices and
- requiring employers who provide a worker with a hearing protection device to provide adequate training and instruction on that device.
Further priorities for the Ministry next year are vulnerable workers, those who are new to the workplace, small businesses, and high hazards based on WSIB data.
As always, what was discussed at the SIG was much broader than what is highlighted in this blog. Additional topics included contractor safety, health and safety hot spots, types of inspections carried out by Ministry of Labour inspectors, and, of course, many, many anecdotes. Sign up early for the next SIG, so you can hear all the details yourself.
A warm thank you to our speaker, Chris Vasey, and to the Ford Centre for Excellence in Manufacturing at St. Clair College for hosting our event and for welcoming our members to their Industry Day activities.