Enforcement initiatives are part of the province’s Safe At Work Ontario compliance strategy.

They may be announced to sectors in advance although individual workplaces are not identified in advance.

Three enforcement initiatives will take place during the 2017-2018 period. One initiative will run for 12 months and will start on April 1, 2017 and end on March 31, 2018. The two remaining initiatives will run for 11 months and will start on May 1, 2017 and end on March 31, 2018. Results from province-wide initiatives are posted on the ministry’s website. The initiatives are intended to raise awareness of workplace hazards and promote compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and its regulations.

Inspectors’ findings may influence the frequency and level of future inspections of individual workplaces. Inspectors may also refer employers to health and safety associations for compliance assistance and training.

Construction inspectors enforce the OHSA and its regulations at construction projects across the province. As part of the Safe At Work Ontario strategy, they focus on specific construction subsectors where there are high injury rates, a history of non-compliance and known workplace hazards. They will also continue to confirm/verify overall compliance with the OHSA and its regulations. Inspectors are not limited to inspecting for contraventions/non-compliance identified in this document, and will exercise their discretion in taking appropriate enforcement action at each workplace inspected.

Noise hazards provincial enforcement initiative

Noise is a serious health hazard. Over time, if worker exposure to noise from machinery, processes and equipment is not properly eliminated or controlled, it may cause permanent hearing loss, a leading cause of occupational disease in Ontario workplaces.

Exposure to high levels of noise in the workplace may also create physical and psychological stress, reduce productivity, interfere with communication and contribute to accidents and injuries by making it difficult to hear moving equipment, other workers and warning signals. Further, hearing loss can have a significant impact on quality of life for workers and their families.

In addition to the negative health effects for workers, noise-induced hearing loss is costly for Ontario’s health and safety system. According to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, between 2009 and 2014 the annual costs for noise-induced hearing loss claims for all sectors exceeded $50 million per year. During this period, the costs of noise-induced hearing loss claims for the construction sector alone were close to $7 million per year.

There is no cure for noise-induced hearing loss; however, it can be prevented by eliminating or controlling noise exposures.

Employers have a duty to take all measures reasonably necessary in the circumstances to protect workers from exposure to hazardous sound levels.

The regulation requires that every employer shall ensure that no worker is exposed to a sound level greater than a time-weighted average exposure limit of 85 dBA (decibels measured on the A-weighting network of a sound-level meter) measured over an 8-hour work day.

Where it is practicable to do so, employers must post a clearly visible warning sign at every approach to an area in the workplace where the sound level regularly exceeds 85 dBA. Employers must comply with this limit following the “hierarchy of controls” which emphasizes the use of engineering controls and work practices to protect workers and places restrictions on the use of hearing protection devices (HPDs) by workers.

When the prescribed exposure limit is exceeded, employers are required to put in place protective measures to proactively reduce workers’ noise exposure. These measures include:

  • engineering controls to reduce noise at the source or along the path of transmission
  • work practices such as equipment maintenance (to keep it quieter) or scheduling to limit a worker’s exposure time
  • personal protective equipment in the form of HPDs, subject to the restrictions stated in the regulation.

Employers who provide workers with HPDs must provide them with adequate training and instruction on their care and use. The training and instruction must address:

  • limitations of the device(s)
  • proper fit
  • inspection and maintenance, and, if applicable
  • cleaning and disinfection.

The regulation requires HPDs to be selected with regard to:

  • the sound levels to which a worker is exposed
  • the attenuation or reduction in sound level provided by the HPD
  • the manufacturer’s information about its use and limitations.

The regulation also requires HPDs to be used and maintained in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.

Enforcement focus

Inspectors will focus on:

  • sources of noise
  • signage
  • engineering controls
  • personal protective equipment (hearing protection devices)
  • the condition of hearing protection devices
  • HPD worker training.

Resources/compliance support

A guide to the noise regulation (Ontario Regulation 381/15) under the Occupational Health and Safety Act

Fall protection provincial enforcement initiative

The Ministry of Labour (MOL) Construction Health and Safety Program (CHSP), along with the MOL Prevention Division and the Infrastructure Health and Safety Association (IHSA), will continue to collaborate to address the hazards associated with all fall-from-height hazards.

Mandatory fall protection training for people working at heights was a priority recommendation of the Expert Advisory Panel on Occupational Health and Safety. In 2015, the ministry implemented a workplace training standard to prevent falls and improve safety for workers who work at heights. Certain workers must complete a working-at-heights training program approved by the Chief Prevention Officer.

The training requirement is for workers on construction projects who use any of the following methods of fall protection:

  • travel restraint systems
  • fall restricting systems
  • fall arrest systems
  • safety nets
  • work belts or safety belts.

Stakeholders are reminded that in addition to working-at-heights training, workers must receive additional hands-on specific training related to the project hazards and the fall protection system being used at a project. The training requirements in the Occupational Health and Safety Awareness and Training Regulation (working at heights) are in addition to the current training requirements under the Construction Regulation.

The 2017-2018 Fall Protection Initiative will address the working-at-heights training requirements and the hands-on specific training requirements related to the fall protection systems being used at a project.

Enforcement focus

Inspectors will focus on:

  • working-at-heights training
  • Ontario Regulation 213/91 – Construction Projects, section 26.2(1) training requirements
  • fall protection pre-planning
  • the condition of fall protection equipment and devices, maintenance and inspection of these items.
  • the availability of project emergency response and rescue plans.

Resources/compliance support

“Struck by” hazards provincial enforcement initiative

“Struck by” hazards are present at construction sites where heavy equipment, mobile equipment or vehicles are operated. Some of the hazards that workers could be exposed to include being struck by or run over by vehicles and mobile construction equipment, being crushed between equipment and other objects and being struck by material moved by construction equipment.

Constructors/employers are responsible for protecting workers from hazards arising from the operation of vehicles and mobile construction equipment at construction projects. The key to avoiding “struck by” hazards is for the constructor/employer to ensure the movement of equipment and workers is planned, organized, controlled, monitored and reviewed. The high hazard and high risk nature of working around heavy equipment and vehicle traffic reinforces the need for equipment and traffic safety control programs.

The ministry wants to raise awareness about “struck by” hazards at construction projects and promote compliance with the construction regulations. The 2017-2018 “Struck By” Initiative will focus on the hazards of working around large equipment, material being moved by equipment at construction projects and road construction traffic control.

Enforcement focus

Inspectors will focus on:

  • project planning and organization to reduce the need for reverse operation of vehicles
  • traffic control plans for road construction
  • training of signal persons and equipment operators
  • use and care of high visibility clothing
  • ensuring dump trucks are equipped with an automatic audible alarm when operated in reverse
  • safe movement of material and equipment.

Resources/compliance support

Regional initiatives

Each MOL region may conduct its own local initiative(s) to raise awareness of and help address health and safety issues that:

  • are specific to particular geographic areas of Ontario and/or
  • have a higher rate of occurrence than the rest of the province.

The table below outlines planned regional enforcement initiatives for April 1, 2017 to March 31, 2018. 

Regional enforcement initiatives
RegionName of initiativeDate
Central WestRoad construction projects/What to look for in traffic control and traffic protection plansMay 1, 2017 – May 31, 2017
Central WestTemporary labour agencies – Joint IHSP/CHSP initiative – Focus on worker training and hazard exposureJune 1, 2017 – March 31, 2018
WesternElectrical contactApril 1, 2017 – March 31, 2018