Compliance initiative results: Temporary help agencies
Results of a province-wide enforcement initiative that focused on temporary help agencies in industrial workplaces from May 2, 2022 to August 31, 2022.
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From May 2, 2022 to August 31, 2022, the Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development (MLITSD) conducted a health and safety initiative which focused on temporary help agencies in industrial and farming and agriculture workplaces.
We began by focusing on education, outreach and awareness, in partnership with our health and safety associations to provide training and education to employers. The goal was to help employers comply with the requirements under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and its regulations prior to focused inspections.
Beginning June 29, 2022, we conducted a focused inspection blitz at workplaces to check that employers were complying with the OHSA and its regulations. In particular, inspectors checked that employers were taking appropriate action to assess and deal with hazards specifically for the protection of workers who:
- may be unfamiliar with the workplace, or the work being conducted
- may have limited knowledge of the OHSA and Industrial regulations
- may not be fluent in English
- conducted 630 field visits with 70 support role activities (an activity in which another inspector or a professional services staff such as a hygienist, ergonomist or engineer accompanies an inspector on a field visit to provide professional support and expertise)
- visited 588 workplaces
- issued 996 orders and requirements, including 24 stop work orders
Temporary help agencies employ new workers, young workers and vulnerable workers.
Workers new to a job are three times more likely to get hurt during the first month on the job than at any other time. New hires, temporary foreign workers, permanent or temporary workers and any workers who are assigned new jobs are at increased risk of injury.
This initiative aimed to ensure employers are providing temporary help workers with information, instruction, supervision specific to their work placement. Temporary help agency employers and the placement employers have joint responsibilities for worker health and safety.
Workplace inspection initiatives
Inspection initiatives are part of our compliance strategy.
We announce in advance that we will be conducting an initiative, although individual workplaces are not notified in advance.
The results of the initiative are typically posted online within 90 days.
Inspectors’ findings may impact the number and level of future inspections of individual workplaces.
Inspectors may also refer employers to health and safety associations for compliance assistance and training.
Focus of the initiative
Ministry inspectors focused inspections in the following sectors:
- food, beverage and tobacco
- tourism, hospitality and recreational services
- storage, and warehousing
- farming and agriculture
MLITSD identified two focus groups for this initiative:
- young workers who are 14–24 years old
- new workers who are 25 years of age or older
Inspectors focused on the following key priorities:
- training and orientation provided by the employer (for example, supervisor and worker awareness training)
- internal responsibility system (for example, joint health and safety committee/health and safety representation)
- workplace violence/workplace harassment
- minimum age requirements (where the industrial regulations apply)
- heat stress
Inspectors took appropriate action if contraventions were found under the OHSA 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
- 630 field visits with 70 support role activities
- 588 workplaces visited
- 996 orders and requirements issued
- 978 orders issued for contraventions under the OHSAand its regulations, including 24 stop work order(s)
- 18 requirements issued to provide an inspector with workplace information
- an average of 1.69 orders and requirements issued per workplace visited
- an average of 1.58 orders and requirements issued per visit
Most frequently issued orders (Industrial)
The most frequently issued OHSA orders involved employers’ failure to:
- ensure that the equipment, materials and protective divices provided by the employer are maintained in good condition [clause 25(1)(b)] — 92 orders or 9.24% of the total orders and requirements issued during the initiative
- cause the workers to select at least one health and safety representaitve from among the workers at the workplace who do not exercise managerial functions [clause 8(1)] — 39 orders or 3.92% of the total orders and requirements issued during the initiative
- take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of a worker [clause 25(2)(h)] — 31 orders or 3.11% of the total orders and requirements issued during the initiative
- provide information, instruction and supervision to a worker to protect the health or safety of the worker [clause 25(2)(a)] — 21 orders or 2.11% of the total orders and requirements issued during the initiative
- stop work order: Where an inspector finds that the contravention of this Act or the regulations is a danger or hazard to the health or safety of a worker [clause 57(6)] — 24 orders or 2.40% of the total orders and requirements issued during the initiative
A total of 319 orders were issued under the Industrial Establishments Regulation (O. Reg. 851) Orders were issued under the following sections (among others):
- A lifting device shall be thoroughly examined by a competent person to determine its capability of handling the maximum load as rated, (i) prior to being used for the first time, and (ii) thereafter as often as necessary but not less frequently than recommended by the manufacturer and in any case, at least once a year, [s. 51(1)(b)] — 68 orders or 21.32% of total orders issued under the regulation.
- An in-running nip hazard or any part of a machine, device or thing that may endanger the safety of any worker shall be equipped with and guarded by a guard or other device that prevents access to the pinch point [s. 25] — 44 orders or 13.79% of total orders issued under the regulation.
- Material, articles or things shall be transported, placed or stored so that the material, articles or things, (i) will not tip, collapse or fall, and (ii) can be removed or withdrawn without endangering the safety of any worker [s. 45(b)] — 30 orders or 9.40% of total orders issued under the regulation.
As part of checking for worker training and appropriate supervision in workplaces, 104 orders were issued under the Occupational Health and Safety Awareness and Training Regulation (O. Reg. 297/13) for contraventions involving:
- basic occupational health and safety awareness training for workers [s. 1] — 55 orders or 52.88% of total orders issued under the regulation
- basic occupational health and safety awareness training for supervisors [s. 2] — 49 orders or 47.12%
The results of this initiative indicate that workplace parties need to improve compliance with respect to temporary help agencies. We observed that:
- material handling continues to be a very high hazard that can result in serious outcomes
- workers continue to be exposed to the potential hazard of poorly maintained equipment including lifting devices
- 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 struck bys and entanglement in machinery can be prevented by raising awareness and taking proper precautions
Conclusion and next steps
Ministry inspectors will continue to pay attention to temporary help agencies and vulnerable workers to ensure that all workplace parties are aware of and adhere to their duties and rights.
The results of the initiative confirm our need to continue to focus on worker safety in sectors where the use of temporary help agencies is common and to promote occupational health and safety among new and young workers.
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.