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February marks government’s forklift blitz

By Mari-Len De Guzman

Forklifts and other lifting devices are the focus of this month’s safety inspection blitz by the Ontario Ministry of Labour, labour minister Peter Fonseca announced Tuesday.

Ministry inspectors will visit industrial workplaces to check for hazards involving forklift and other lifting devices, which have been known to be a major cause of serious injuries and deaths among workers.

Fonseca said inspectors will be taking a “zero tolerance approach” to any violations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. He made the announcement during a tour of the Industrial Safety Trainers Inc.’s training facility in Barrie, Ont.

Last year, the ministry’s forklift inspection blitz resulted in the issuance of over 3,000 orders and 182 stop-work orders related to forklifts and other lifting devices, according to the Ministry of Labour. 

At least 18 workers have died since 2003 from incidents involving lift trucks, reach trucks, forklifts and tow motors, based on ministry statistics. More than 25 per cent of those deaths occurred just last year.

During this month-long blitz, safety inspectors will ensure lifting equipment is being inspected and maintained in good condition, operated by well-trained employees, and used in a safe work environment.

Inspections will particularly focus on industrial sectors where most forklift-related incidents occur. These sectors include: retailers, wholesalers, transportation, automotive, wood and metal fabrication, food, beverage and tobacco, offices and related services, chemical, rubber and plastics, industrial services, utilities, mushroom farms and greenhouse operations.

Ministry inspectors will also target workplaces identified as being high-priority due to possible lifting devices and forklift hazards, known to have highly hazardous processes and equipment, where complaints have been received, and where there is poor compliance history.

Part of the government Safe At Work Ontario campaign, the forklift blitz will be conducted in addition to the ministry's recently announced fall hazards blitz, during which inspectors will continue to visit construction sites to check for hazards involving suspended platforms.

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