The Ontario Ministry of Labour has compiled a “top 10” list of violations of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, with violence and harassment taking the number 1 spot. In 2017, the ministry issued 11,662 orders for workplace violence and harassment.
“Simply unacceptable in this day and age,” said Peter Augruso, assistant deputy minister, operations division, for the MOL, speaking at the Partners in Prevention conference in Mississauga, Ont, on Tuesday. “We have lots of work to do on this one.”
Specific legislation against violence and harassment (Bill 132) was introduced in Ontario in Sept. 2016, so 2017 marks the first full year of it being in effect. The ministry has dedicated enforcement officers specifically trained to deal with violence and harassment, but they cannot keep up with the work, Augruso said. As a result, every industrial inspector is now being trained in this area.
Coming in second place is fall protection, with 9,658 violations, which has historically taken the top spot. Last year, 67 per cent of tickets issued by MOL inspectors in the construction sector were for workers not being adequately protected by fall protection.
“It continues to amaze me,” said Augruso. “Seems kind of commonsense, logical that you go out working at heights and you’re going to use fall protection or guardrails.”
But it’s not just the construction sector that’s having problems with fall protection. During its Stop Falls inspection blitz last year, the MOL issued 206 stop work orders across the construction, industrial and mining sectors.
“That means there was an imminent danger to a worker. That’s the only time we issue a stop work order is when something is going to happen that’s going to be tragic, so we issue a stop work order. Stop everything,” Augruso said.
Rounding out the top three is lack of personal protective equipment with 8,318 orders. But the fourth on the list — 6,472 orders for improper access and egress — seemed to particularly frustrate Augruso.
“Come on folks. Make sure the fire doors don’t have boxes around them so if somebody has to get out of the building, they can,” he said. “The majority of those I bet you for sure are blocked entrances and exits.”
The top 10 violations list informed the ministry’s key priorities for fiscal year 2018-19 as well as its inspection blitzes. Blitz schedules are posted well in advance on the ministry’s website, so employers should be prepared for a potential visit from an inspector.
“We’re going to tell you what it is, we’re going to tell you the dates of it. Shame on you if we come out there and actually issue orders,” Augruso said. “We can’t do anything more than hold your hand.”
Top 10 OHS violations for 2017
1. Workplace violence and harassment (11,662 violations)
2. Fall protection (9,658)
3. Lack of personal protective equioment (8,318)
4. Improper access and egress (6,472)
5. Health and safety representative and JHSC (6,239)
6. Administrative (6,007)
7. Basic OHS awareness training (5,232)
8. Improper use/maintenance of ladders/scaffolding (4,846)
9. Lack of machine/equipment guarding (4,276)
10. Housekeeping/work surfaces (4,269)