Health and safety blitz set for Oct. 1

North Bay Nugget

Workplace Safety North will host two webinars with the Ministry of Labour in advance of a province-wide health and safety inspection blitz on musculoskeletal disorders and respiratory hazards in all sectors. Submitted Photo

The provincial Ministry of Labour is conducting a province-wide health and safety inspection blitz from Oct. 1 to Dec. 27 on musculoskeletal disorders and respiratory hazards in all sectors.

Phase 1 of the blitz will involve assistance from the four provincial health and safety associations to help educate employers and supervisors about these issues to prepare them for a ministry visit.

“Various webinars are being held in each sector, including construction, health care, industrial and mining for association member firms to attend and learn what to expect during the inspection blitz,” Paul Andre, president and CEO of Workplace Safety North says.

Workplace Safety North is co-hosting two webinars with the Ministry of Labour: Sept. 10 for the mining sector and Sept. 23 for the industrial sector.

Employers and supervisors can register at workplacesafetynorth.ca/events.

“October is also Global Ergonomics Month and each year the Ontario Health Clinics for Ontario Workers hosts a free webinar, so we encourage folks to register and learn more.”

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 are the top lost-time injury reported to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board. In 2017, these injuries represented approximately one-third of all accepted WSIB lost-time claims.

In Ontario, there were more than 19,000 claims, 462,000 days lost from work and $72 million in direct WSIB costs.

The health and safety inspection blitz focuses on hazards that may lead to musculoskeletal disorders 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practices, that items are being manually handled in a safe manner, that items are stored so they can be placed or withdrawn in a safe manner, that handling items while a worker is on a ladder is being performed in a safe manner and that obstructions and/or hazards on the floor are not interfering with manual materials handling activities.

Mining inspectors will check if and where musculoskeletal disorders are occurring, joint health and safety meeting minutes to see if any hazards have been identified, if workers have been provided with information and instruction regarding musculoskeletal disorder hazards in their work, that material materials handling duties are being performed in a safe manner and if workers are being exposed to hand-arm vibration, and if so, what precautions are being taken.

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 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) and particulate (diesel emissions, for example).

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

In mining workplaces, inspectors will check that employers are maintaining ventilation for the operation of underground diesel equipment, are diluting or removing contaminants to prevent worker exposure that is above legal limits, have accurate plans and records of ventilation systems, are maintaining diesel equipment, are testing for diesel emissions and diesel particulate matter (see the guidelines on testing undiluted exhaust in underground mines and sampling for diesel particulate matter in mines), are completing occupational exposure monitoring in areas of known or expected exposures and have assessments and control programs in place for designated substances (for example, silica) and dust
The ministry has released a fact sheet that gives an overview of occupational disease in mines which can be found at https://www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/hs/sawo/pubs/fs_miningdisease.php

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