Ontario Ministry of Labour inspectors are visiting workplaces and looking for machines that are not properly guarded, blocked or locked out in a blitz that lasts until Feb. 26.
Workers can be exposed to a number of hazards when machines are not properly guarded or locked out during maintenance, repair and other activities in industrial sector workplaces. These hazards can result in serious injuries such as amputations of limbs or death.
In 2013, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board received 1,641 claims from workers who were caught in or compressed by equipment and 246 claims from workers who were rubbed or abraded by friction, pressure or jarred by vibration.
This blitz will be conducted to check that employers are protecting workers from hazards in machinery, including:
• pinch points of unguarded machinery
• moving parts if machinery is not properly locked out and blocked during mechanical repair and maintenance
• electrical contact if machinery is not de-energized and locked out during electrical repair and maintenance.
Inspectors will also be checking that employers have taken adequate measures to address potential musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) hazards involving guarding ergonomics. This includes addressing increased awkward postures and forces to perform required duties due to the installation of a machine guard.
Inspectors will also check and evaluate workplaces’ internal responsibility system (IRS) to see if an health and safety representative or committee is in place, when appropriate, and that they are functioning as required under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. They will also check that employers are carrying out the act minimum requirements such as workplace inspections.
Inspectors will also be making sure employers have policies and programs in place to protect workers from hazards in the workplace. Program elements of a policy could include some of the following, worker training on chemicals (especially metalworking fluids and degreasing solvents), machine guarding and lockout.