Overview

From January 20 to March 31, 2020, the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development (MLTSD) conducted a health and safety initiative which focused on machine guarding hazards in industrial workplaces.

We began by looking at education, outreach and awareness, partnering with Workplace Safety and Prevention Services (WSPS) and Workplace Safety North (WSN) to provide training and education to employers. The goal was to help employers comply with the requirements for machine guarding under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and its regulations prior to focused inspections.

Beginning February 18, 2020, we conducted a focused inspection blitz in industrial workplaces to check that employers were complying with the Occupational Health and Safety Act and Regulation 851: Industrial Establishments. This initiative included workplaces in the following sectors:

  • automotive
  • food and beverage
  • wood and metal fabrication
  • textiles and printing
  • chemical, rubber, and plastics
  • ceramics
  • logging (sawmills)
  • pulp and paper

Our inspectors:

  • conducted 507 field visits with 93 support role activities footnote 1
  • visited 425 workplaces
  • issued 1,705 orders and requirements, including 70 stop-work orders

Background

Workers can be exposed to a number of hazards when machines are not properly guarded during maintenance, repair and other activities in industrial workplaces. These hazards can result in serious injuries such as amputations of limbs or death.

Electrical workers can also be at risk of a major electrical hazard if improper lockout procedures are used when working on energized electrical equipment.

Full report

Workplace inspection initiatives

Inspection initiatives are part of our Safe At Work Ontario compliance strategy. We announce to the sector, in advance, that we will be conducting an initiative, although individual workplaces are not notified in advance. Inspectors’ findings may affect the number and level of future inspections of individual workplaces.

Inspectors may also refer employers to health and safety associations for help with compliance and training.

Focus of the initiative

We provided information on the initiative on February 6, 2020, at a webinar co-hosted by the ministry and Workplace Safety and Prevention Services (WSPS). The webinar offered details on what our inspectors would be looking for during the blitz and OHSA requirements for machine guarding in industrial workplaces, and gave attendees an opportunity to ask questions.

Inspectors focused on the following key priorities:

  • machine guarding
  • locking and blocking
  • electrical hazards
  • power line contact
  • internal responsibility system (IRS)

Inspectors took appropriate action if violations were found under the Occupational Health and Safety Act or its regulations.

This included:

  • writing orders to employers, supervisors and workers to have them comply with legal requirements
  • issuing stop-work orders requiring employers to comply before work could continue

Inspection activity summary

Visits to workplaces

  • 507 field visits with 93 support role activities
  • 425 workplaces visited
  • 1,705 orders and requirements issued
    • 1,666 orders issued for violations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act and its regulations, including 70 stop work orders
    • 39 requirements issued to provide an inspector with workplace information
  • an average of 4.01 orders and requirements issued per workplace visited
  • an average of 3.36 orders and requirements issued per visit

Most frequently issued orders

Most of the orders issued under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) were for the following reasons:

  • employer failure to maintain equipment, materials and protective devices in good condition [clause 25(1)(b)] – 189 orders or 11% of the total orders and requirements issued during the initiative
  • employer failure to take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances to protect the worker from machine guarding hazards [clause 25(2)(h)] – 53 orders or 3.11% of the total orders and requirements issued during the initiative
  • stop-work order [section 57(6)] – 70 orders or 4.1% of the total orders and requirements issued during the initiative

The most frequently issued orders under Regulation 851: Industrial Establishments were for employers’ failure to:

  • provide a guard or other device to prevent access to an exposed moving part [section 24] – 161 orders or 9.44% of the total orders and requirements issued during the initiative
  • provide a guard or other device to prevent access to a pinch point [section 25] – 157 orders or 9.21% of the total orders and requirements issued during the initiative
  • have a lifting device examined by a competent person, as required, to determine its capability of handling the maximum load as rated [clause 51(1) (b)] – 51 orders or 6.5% of the total orders and requirements issued during the initiative

Observations

The results of this initiative indicate that workplace parties need to improve compliance with machine guarding:

  • Workers continue to be exposed to moving parts and pinch points on machines and equipment. Workers are also at risk of being struck by materials if a lift is not properly examined before first use and as required by the manufacturer, or at least once per year.
  • Heightened awareness of any hazard can bring change. All workplaces parties must continue to be diligent and not allow complacency to creep into their daily routines.
  • The risk of injuries to workers can be prevented by raising awareness and taking proper precautions.

Conclusion and next steps

The results of the initiative confirm our need to continue to focus on preventing injuries and deaths from machine guarding and electrical hazards in industrial workplaces.

During routine inspections, the ministry will continue to focus on employers’ compliance with the requirements for machine guarding and electrical hazards under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and its regulations.

A key to workplace health and safety in Ontario is the internal responsibility system (IRS). Workplace parties are encouraged to work together to identify and control all hazards.

Help for employers

Please contact our health and safety partners for more information.


Footnotes

  • footnote[1] Back to paragraph Activities in which professional services staff (for example, a hygienist, ergonomist, engineer, etc.) or another inspector accompanies an inspector on a field visit to provide technical support and/or expertise.
Updated: July 05, 2021
Published: October 30, 2020