Avoiding Hazards and Work Accident Claims in Heavy Industry

As part of a campaign blitz slated to happen for six weeks to be conducted this fall in Ontario workplaces, inspectors will target mainly the dangers surrounding the machines that are not adequately protected, locked or chocked.

There have been an increase in workplace and industry related work accident claims over the last decade, and we truly do hope to look to decrease these.

Reducing Work Accident Claims

The Ministry of Labour inspectors will visit a range of workplaces in the industrial sector between November 3 and December 16, 2014. They will check whether employers, supervisors and workers comply with the requirements of the Health Act and the Safety and Regulations.

Image courtesy of http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47dc-3ce4-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99
Image courtesy of http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47dc-3ce4-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

Protection, blocking and bracing machines designate protective devices designed to prevent access to moving machine parts and prevent machines are activated unexpectedly and put them at risk workers during maintenance, repair or hardware installation.

For workers, machines not equipped with appropriate guards and inadequate lockout procedures can cause serious injuries such as limb amputation, or death.

In 2012, the Commission Workplace Safety and Insurance against accidents at work has received the following complaints from workers who sustained injuries with work interruption, or injuries that forced them to miss work :

  • Work accident claims for injuries with work interruption from 1976 workers trapped or crushed by equipment;
  • Personal injury claims LTIs from 305 workers who have been rubbing or abrasion by friction or pressure or shaken by vibrations;
  • Personal injury claims LTIs from 367 workers amputated a limb or other body part.

In 2013, 17 percent or 2,737 of all orders given by the inspectors of the Ministry of Labour under the Regulations for Industrial Establishments were for offenses relating to protective devices and lock machines.

In addition, during the blitz, inspectors will check the internal responsibility system of the workplace, which requires internal roles and policies to emphasize the personal responsibility of employers, supervisors and workers with respect to their health and safety on the workplace.

They will also examine the dangers of chemical exposure and musculoskeletal disorders associated with it.

Workplace Dangers

The dangers on unprotected machines and inadequate action locking and timing may include the exposure of workers to:

  • pinch points and risks of jamming by attraction that are created when two or more mechanical parts rotate in opposite direction and close each other. If a body part (such as hair, a hand or a member) or clothing touching a pinch point, the worker can be driven in the movement of the machine and thus suffer a serious injury or be killed;
  • moving parts if the equipment is not properly seated and locked during maintenance or repair.

Musculoskeletal disorders among workers can occur when they are engaged on repetitive movements and adopt awkward postures when working with the material.

Occupational disease can develop in workers who are exposed through skin contact and inhalation of metalworking fluids and degreasing solvents.

Blitz – Target

Ministry inspectors will visit a range of workplaces in the industrial sector. They will pay special attention to workplaces of the following sub-sectors:

  • manufacture of wood and metal products;
  • manufacturing;
  • chemicals and plastics;
  • automobile;
  • sawmills;
  • home construction materials;
  • Food, beverages and tobacco;
  • pulp and paper;
  • textiles and printing.

The blitz will target the following workplaces:

  • those where there are machines;
  • those where hazardous processes and equipment are used;
  • those for which complaints were received;
  • those who have a history of non-compliance.

Inspectors will take enforcement action of the law, if necessary, in response to any violation of the Act on health and safety at work and the regulations.

Priorities

Inspectors will focus on the following priorities:

Protection devices: Inspectors will check that employers shall ensure that pinch points and other dangerous places on the hardware are covered with protective devices. Protective devices are generally required in places where there are moving parts, pinch points, as the power transmission interfaces and shear points.

Lock and rigging: Inspectors will check that employers ensure that workers follow lockout procedures to prevent the machine turn on when opened or when the guards are removed. Ideally, equipment should be designed so that repairs and maintenance can be performed without one having to reach dangerous places or remove safety devices.

Locking procedures generally require that the machine is completely stopped and all the power sources are locked. Inspectors will also verify that employers ensure that machinery or equipment is blocked by, for example, wood or metal shims to prevent it from falling or moving when it is open or temporarily high for allowing workers to work in the sector or move it.

Internal Responsibility System: Inspectors will check and evaluate internal responsibility system to ensure that worker health and safety and of joint committees on health and safety are in place, if necessary and they operate as required by the Occupational Health and Safety.

Other hazards: Inspectors will check that employers protect workers against exposure to musculoskeletal disorders and against the dermal exposure and inhalation exposure to metalworking fluids and degreasing solvents.