Friday, June 17, 2011

Ministry of Labour New and Young Workers Safety Blitz

It is that time of year again, when we think about hiring new and young workers. Take the time to ensure that your training programs, policies, procedures, orientation program and your health and safety bulletin board are current and up to date before recruiting new workers.

The Ministry of Labour will be out in full force enforcing health and safety regulations to ensure your workplaces are safe for young workers entering your workforce, beginning May 1, 2011. Ministry of Labour Health and Safety Inspectors will be looking to make sure that:

1. new and young workers are protected on the job with safety measures in place

2. new and young workers have proper orientation programs,

3. that new and young workers are trained and supervised on the job, and

4. that new and young workers meet minimum age requirements.

Under the OHSA Employers must:

 Ensure that all equipment, materials and protective devices (guards, PPE etc) are provided, maintained in good condition, and always used as required by law.

 Ensure that workplace health and safety policies, programs, measures and procedures are current and workers have received training.

 Provide ongoing information, instruction and supervision to protect workers.

 Ensure you have competent supervisors for the job.

 Conduct a hazard assessment of your workplace ensuring that workers and their supervisors are aware of the hazards they face.

 Cooperate with health and safety committees or representatives as required by law.

 Comply with sector-specific minimum age requirements in your province

 Take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances to protect all workers

Under the OHSA Supervisors must:

 Be competent

 Ensure that workers perform their jobs safely in a manner prescribed by law, using equipment, protective devices in a safe manner and as prescribed by law and by the employer.

 Identify to the worker all actual and potential, general and job-specific, workplace hazards.

 Provide all workers with written policies, procedures and programs for their protection as prescribed by law.

Designate one week per year as your safety review week. Conduct a complete facility audit to identify hazards and risks, worker first aid and other training requirements. Update all policies, procedures and programs. Hold a yearly worker safety meeting. BE PREPARED!

Video is from WorkSafe BC but is still relevant to accidents in Ontario!

Lynne Bard
President/Senior Consultant
Beyond Rewards Inc
Human Resource & Safety Experts

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Beyond Rewards Inc.: Reporting Every Incident: ‘Person’ vs. ‘Worker’ in...

Beyond Rewards Inc.: Reporting Every Incident: ‘Person’ vs. ‘Worker’ in...: "Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) is set up to outline the rights and duties of all parties in Ontario workplaces. Typical..."

Friday, June 10, 2011

Reporting Every Incident: ‘Person’ vs. ‘Worker’ in the OHSA - Person vs. Worker

Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) is set up to outline the rights and duties of all parties in Ontario workplaces. Typically when one thinks of “workplace parties” the employer, managers/supervisors, and employees come to mind. As such, most employers consider the OHSA to protect only workers of the workplace, but based on some of the specific wording in the act this may not be the case. Under subsection 51 (1) of the OHSA, the Ministry of Labour (MOL) must be notified immediately after the occurrence of a death or injury at the workplace. The belief has been that this only relates to deaths or injuries of a person employed by the workplace, but a recent OLRB case involving Blue Mountain resort reveals that in fact is not the case.

In December of 2007, an unsupervised guest at the Blue Mountain resort drowned in the indoor swimming pool. When the incident occurred, no workers were present in the pool area. Blue Mountain decided not to report the fatality to the Ministry of Labour since the incident did not involve a worker. Four months later a Ministry of Labour inspector visited the resort to conduct workplace compliance audit, and soon found out about the drowning. As a result Blue Mountain was issued an order under subsection 51 (1) of the OHSA which states that:

Where a person is killed or critically injured from any cause at a workplace, the constructor, if any, and the employer shall notify an inspector, and the committee, health and safety representative and trade union, if any, immediately of the occurrence by telephone or other direct means...

Based on the literal wording of the act, Blue Mountain was given an order since they failed to notify an inspector of the death of a person. Blue Mountain appealed the order to the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB) and further sought judicial review, but both the board and the Court upheld the order.

Subsection 51 (1) is not the only instance of the use of the word “person” in the OHSA. While the term person is not defined in the act, “worker” is defined as “a person who performs work or supplies services for monetary compensation...” therefore the OLRB held that the term “person” was more expansive than “worker” and that the OHSA wouldn’t have used the word “person” if they only meant “worker.” The main reason for why the MOL requires non-worker fatalities and injuries to be reported is that the workplace hazards that injure non-workers may also endanger workers.

The other aspect of the order that Blue Mountain took issue with was the fact that they believed the incident did not take place at the workplace since no workers were present. Both the OLRB and the Court agreed as well that despite the absence of a Blue Mountain worker at the time of the incident, the swimming pool area was in fact a “workplace.”

What does this mean for Employers?

While the responsibility under the OHSA to report deaths or injuries hasn’t changed or been revised, the outcome of the Blue Mountain case has broadened the understanding of OHSA’s definitions. This new understanding runs the risk of turning almost any place into a workplace, and any injury or fatality as an incident to report. What is and isn’t a reportable injury to the MOL under the OHSA? Currently the answer really can only be left to, “it depends on the circumstances.”

What employers need to do is take every precaution when dealing with any type of workplace accident. This should include when a non-worker accident occurs or when an accident occurs “off-site” of the workplace. Proper accident and incident reporting procedures should be developed and in place complete with employer, employee, manager/supervisor, and Health and Safety representative responsibilities in order to ensure OHSA and MOL compliance. Proper reporting procedures should instruct Human Resources or the Manager/Supervisor to immediately contact a MOL inspector to inquire as to whether or not the MOL requires any notice. Generally by phoning the MOL toll free number (1-877-202-0008), representatives will be able to quickly inform employers of their obligations for specific incident circumstances. It’s always better to be safe than sorry, especially when dealing with legislation.

Proper accident and incident procedures should also outline appropriate written reporting procedures and reporting forms. For any incident that occurs, a report needs to be completed stating the circumstances of the incident with a copy to be given to the MOL.

When dealing with any type of incident there are some basic steps to follow to help ensure that every organization has complied with their responsibility:

1. Provide medical assistance to the injured person.

2. Preserve the scene of the accident.

3. Notify the MOL for any critical or fatal injuries.

4. Determine whether reporting is required (can double check with MOL by calling).

5. Complete reporting requirements, if applicable.

6. Co-operate with the MOL during any investigations.

7. Complete an internal investigation of the incident.

8. Obtain independent expert advice if necessary.

9. Take necessary steps to prevent similar incidents from reoccurring.

Tanya Walesch, H.B.A.

Human Resources and Safety Consultant

Beyond Rewards Inc.