Safety Blitz in Ontario Targets Fall Protection
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MISSISSAUGA, Ontario—September 9, 2008—In the US, fall protection violations have been a leading cause of workplace injuries, fatalities and workers' comp claims for many years, especially construction violations under OSHA's 29 CFR 1926, Subparts L (Scaffolds) and M (Fall Protection). The Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) in Canada has compiled similar accident/injury data. Consequently, Canada's most-populous province has launched a "Safe at Work Ontario" strategy to help reduce workplace injuries at industrial facilities.
Provincial inspectors across Ontario have begun "blitzing" industrial and commercial workplaces such as factories, new-construction contractors, roofers and others where fall hazards from heights are more dominant. The initiative will focus on platforms, scaffolds, raised floors, mezzanines and various ladders. Inspectors are looking for improperly installed/secured guardrails, personal fall-arrest equipment such as safety belts and lanyards, as well as inappropriate behavior and procedures such as climbing up shelving or working on storage racks and platforms not intended to accommodate body weight.
Each violation can bring a fine of up to $500,000 for corporations; individuals can be fined up to $25,000 or imprisonment up to one year, or both. See OHSA at www.e-laws.gov.on.ca for more information. The Canadian government's goals are simple: keeping more at-risk workers safe and increasing productivity for Ontario's economy, while lessening the burden on the healthcare system.
The "Safe at Work Ontario" initiative certainly has top-government labour support. "Falls are a leading cause of workplace injuries and fatalities," said Labour Minister Bradley Duguid. "The McGuinty government and our workplace partners are working together to eliminate all workplace injuries. Blitzing industrial workplaces to prevent slips and falls will help us take a step closer to achieving our goal."