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Inspection blitzes

MOL inspectors are responsible for enforcing the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and its regulations at workplaces across the province. As part of the Safe At Work Ontario strategy, they focus on specific industry sectors where there are high injury rates, a history of non-compliance and specific workplace hazards. They will also continue to verify overall compliance with the OHSA and its regulations. Inspectors are not limited to inspecting the issues identified in this document as Safe At Work Ontario areas of focus, and will take enforcement action as appropriate to the situation at each workplace inspected.

Note: Injury and illness trends: The program uses Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) data to identify injury and illness trends. Trend analyses of the number of fatalities, critical injuries, lost-time injuries (LTIs), LTI rates and the costs associated with WSIB claims for each sector are used by the program to identify sectors for blitz initiatives. In addition to this information, inspectors also review the compliance history and known hazards inherent to the type of work to select which workplaces to visit.

In addition to their general inspection duties, mining inspectors will conduct three province-wide blitz campaigns in 2017-2018. The first will be Occupational Disease, July 1, 2017 – August 31, 2017; Slips, Trips and Falls and Musculoskeletal Disorders in Mines and Mining Plants, October 2, 2017 – November 30, 2017; Compliance on personal protective equipment PPE and high visibility clothing, February 1, 2018 – March 31, 2018.

Month, yearEnforcement campaign/blitz topicReview points
July 1, 2017 – August 31, 2017Occupational disease
  • underground mine ventilation
  • worker exposure to diesel exhaust
  • exposure sampling
  • surface operations for exposure to silica
  • mill and smelter assessments for designated substances
October 2, 2017 – November 30, 2017Slips, trips and falls and musculoskeletal disorders in mines and mining plants
  • looking at work where workers are performing manual materials handling tasks or exposed to hand-arm vibration (to prevent musculoskeletal disorders). Conducting an administrative review (risk assessments, injuries, joint health and safety committee minutes)
  • looking at access to workplaces that are adequate to prevent slips, trips and falls
  • check joint health and safety committee minutes to see if any musculoskeletal disorder hazards have been identified
  • check to see if workers have been provided with information and instruction regarding musculoskeletal disorder hazards in their work
February 1, 2018 – March 31, 2018Compliance on personal protective equipment and high visibility clothing
  • review the correct personal protective equipment selection to protect workers from dust and fumes
  • compliance with high visibility clothing requirements, surface and underground
  • distracted drivers at surface mines

Tips on how to prepare for an MOL blitz/initiative inspection

Before the inspector’s visit

  • Check your accident experience in relation to the blitz/initiative topic.
  • Review OHSA sections and regulations that may apply based on the blitz’s/initiative’s focus.
  • Determine whether you are currently meeting or exceeding the minimum legal requirements in those areas.
  • Consult with MOL Health and Safety Partners for specific information and services that may help you prepare.
  • Review the ministry’s blitz-related material.
  • Discuss compliance strategies with your Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC) or Health and Safety Representative (HSR).

During the visit

  • Ensure all required documentation is available to the ministry inspector.
  • Ensure supervisor and worker health and safety representative are available.
  • Ensure the workplace parties co-operate with the ministry inspector.

The inspector will focus on:

  • compliance with the OHSA and its regulations
  • health and safety programs and policies related to the blitz topic, if applicable
  • internal responsibility system (IRS) training requirements and any deficiencies
  • record of injuries, including blitz/initiative related issues/hazards
  • workplace specific hazards related to the blitz/initiative.

Note: Inspectors can legally enter a project or workplace at any time without warrant or prior notice (OHSA section 54(1)(a)). An inspector will identify himself/herself by means of ministry identification. No person shall hinder, obstruct, molest or interfere with or attempt to hinder, obstruct, molest or interfere with an inspector in the exercise of a power or the performance of a duty under this act or the regulations or in the execution of a warrant issued under this act or the Provincial Offences Act with respect to a matter under this act or the regulations.

Occupational disease blitz

Date: July 1, 2017 – August 31, 2017

Type: Mining provincial

Ministry mining inspectors will check for hazards that lead to occupational disease. This will include but not be limited to exposures to diesel exhaust, silica and other designated substances, chemical or biological hazards at mines and mining plants.They will check that employers comply with the OHSA and its regulations.

Rationale

Occupational disease is one of the biggest contributors to workplace fatalities in mines and mining plants.

Between 2011 and 2015, 106 workers died in Ontario’s mining sector as a result of occupational diseases.

Occupational disease can occur when workers are exposed to chemical, biological or physical hazards.

The blitz’s goals are to:

  • raise awareness of hazards involving occupational disease hazards at underground and surface mining operations
  • increase worksite compliance with the law
  • prevent injuries and illnesses that could arise from unsafe work practices.

Inspectors will focus on the following key priorities:

Ventilation systems
Inspectors will check to ensure employers maintain the minimum requirements for ventilation in the workplace, including but not limited to ventilation for operation of underground diesel equipment, auxiliary ventilation in work headings, dilution or removal of contaminants to prevent worker exposure above the prescribe limits, accurate plans and records of ventilation system.
Diesel exhaust
Inspectors will check that diesel equipment is being maintained; they will also check to see that the required diesel emission testing is performed as per the requirements.
Surface mine exposures to silica
Inspectors will check that Occupational Exposure Monitoring, including personal sampling, is completed in areas of known or expected exposures. They will also check to ensure that, where required, assessments and control programs are in place and have been developed in consultation with the Joint Health and Safety Committee or worker health and safety representative (if any in the workplace).
Mill and smelter assessments for designated substances

Typical designated substances found in mine and mill include arsenic, asbestos (tramp material), isocyanates (maybe bolting), lead and silica. Inspectors will check:

  • Assessment(s)
    • any increase in production or changes in the process that may affect the current conclusions of the assessment
    • re-assessments
  • Control program(s)
    • should include engineering controls, work practices, hygiene facilities
    • methods and procedures used to monitor airborne concentrations and worker exposure
    • worker training
Exposure sampling (personal, area):

Inspectors will check to see that employers are sampling workers who may be at risk of exposure as required by OHSA and its regulations.

  • Does the sampling program match what is in the control program?
  • How many occupations are part of the program?
  • What is the frequency of personal and area sampling?
  • Is there any description of activities during worker sampling?
  • What happens if a sample exceeds limits?
  • Are there any other substances that are sampled (nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, cyanide, SO2)?

Tools

Slips, trips and falls and musculoskeletal disorders in mines and mining plants

Date: October 1, 2017 – November 30, 2017

Type: Mining provincial

Ministry mining inspectors will check for hazards that lead to musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). This will include but not be limited to manual materials handling and hand-arm vibration. They will also be checking that employers have completed risk assessments which include assessing MSD hazards, and reviewing MSDs that have occurred and JHSC minutes. Inspectors will further check to see that access to workplaces is adequate in order to prevent slips, trips and falls. The blitz will be in conjunction with Global Ergonomics Month which takes place each year in October.

Rationale

MSDs continue to be the leading type of injury in the mining sector. In 2015, MSDs accounted for 36% of all lost time injuries footnote 1.

Hand-arm vibration syndrome is the second most common occupational disease and falls account for 16% of all lost time injuries in the mining sector, according to Workplace Safety North.

Blitz focus

The blitz’s goals are to:

  • raise awareness of MSD and slips, trips and falls hazards at underground and surface mines and mining plants
  • increase workplace compliance with the law
  • prevent MSDs arising from unsafe work practices, equipment or work areas and
  • prevent injuries from slips, trips and falls due to inadequate access to workplaces.

Mining inspectors will visit mines and mining plants to:

  • ensure MSD risk assessments have been completed where necessary
  • check if and where MSDs are occurring
  • check JHSC minutes to see if any MSD hazards have been identified
  • check to see in workers have been provided with information and instruction regarding MSD hazards in their work
  • ensure manual materials handling duties are being performed in a safe manner
  • check if workers are being exposed to hand-arm vibration and if so, what precautions are being taken
  • ensure that access to workplaces are adequate to prevent slips, trips and falls.

Tools

Compliance on personal protective equipment and high visibility clothing

Date: February 1, 2018 – March 31, 2018

Type: Mining provincial

Mining inspectors will check during visits to mines and mining plants that workers have the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) to perform their work; this includes high visibility safety apparel. Inspectors will also check that new requirements for traffic management programs have taken into consideration distracted driving as one risk that workers may be exposed to while operating equipment.

Rationale

In 2016/2017 there were amendments made to Regulation 854 – Mines and Mining Plants that included stricter requirements for work visibility, requiring workers to wear high visibility safety apparel. Occupational disease is a focus of the Ministry of Labour, to ensure workers have the necessary protection to perform their work without being exposed to dangerous biological or chemical hazards. This focus includes PPE where required by the OHSA and its regulations. Risk assessments must be completed and will require consultation with the Joint Health and Safety Committee or the health and safety representative (if any in the workplace) when developing the controls and measures to mitigate the risks incorporating the hierarchy of controls. The hierarchy of controls includes the use of PPE as a measure to protect workers where so prescribed. The Ministry of Labour will check to ensure that the PPE selected does comply with the OHSA and its regulations.

Distracted driving was one of the top risks identified in the surface mining risk assessment completed in 2016 with industry and labour representatives.

Inspectors will follow up with employers to ensure that requirements are being complied with.

Blitz focus

Mining inspectors will visit mines and mining plants to ensure workers:

  • have been trained on the care and use of the personal protective equipment
  • that the selected personal protective equipment is adequate to protect workers for work being performed
  • have high visibility safety apparel that meets the requirements set out in Regulation 854 – Mines and Mining Plants
  • are aware that traffic management programs have identified distracted driving as a high risk to operators of equipment.

Tools


Footnotes

Updated: May 31, 2022
Published: August 02, 2017