In response to COVID-19, the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development plans to adjust the current 2020-21 health and safety compliance initiative schedule. Further updates will be provided as necessary.

We thank you for your continued efforts in keeping workplaces safe in Ontario during this time.


Health and safety inspection initiatives are part of the province’s Safe At Work Ontario compliance strategy.

These initiatives are announced to sectors in advance. However, individual workplaces are not identified in advance.

Results from provincial 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.

Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development (MLTSD) inspectors are responsible for enforcing the OHSA and its regulations at workplaces across the province. As part of the Safe At Work Ontario strategy, the ministry decides on the focus of initiatives using a risk-based process. This process takes into account:

  • injury, illness and fatality rates
  • compliance history
  • the nature of the work (for example, hazards that come with the job)
  • current events
  • the vulnerability of the workers
  • strategic priorities
  • advice from stakeholders and the field

The focuses can be on specific sectors, hazards, issues or topics.

Inspectors are not limited to inspecting only the topics identified in this plan; they can apply the OHSA and its regulations to the situation they find at each workplace they inspect.

Inspectors’ findings may influence how often individual workplaces will be inspected in the future. Inspectors may also refer employers to health and safety associations for assistance and training.

Tower crane inspection and maintenance

From August 31, 2020 to December 31, 2020 we will run an initiative that focuses on tower crane inspections and maintenance on projects. This will ensure compliance with:

Stakeholder compliance assistance

The Construction Health and Safety Program created a tower crane checklist for stakeholders that outlines what inspectors will look for during a tower crane inspection at a project.

Stakeholders should use the checklist as guidance material to help them comply with tower crane regulatory requirements. It is not intended to replace the regulation.

The Infrastructure Health and Safety Association (IHSA) will distribute the checklist to stakeholders via the Labour Management Network before the initiative start date. You can also find the checklist below.

Focused inspections

From August 31, 2020 to December 31, 2020 we plan to inspect every tower crane on construction projects throughout the province.


Following two separate incidents involving tower crane failures, inspectors will review all tower cranes in Ontario for:

  • maintenance
  • installation
  • inspection practices

This initiative will:

  • increase compliance with the OHSA and regulations
  • track the number and ownership of tower cranes in Ontario

Initiative focus

Inspectors will check that workplace parties:

  • inspect tower cranes prior to being erected
  • erect and inspect tower cranes at the project as per regulatory requirements
  • maintain tower cranes erected at a project in a condition that does not endanger a worker or the public

Tower crane safety checklist – what inspectors will look for

Inspectors may:

Required documentation

During a standard tower crane inspection on projects, ministry inspectors will look for the following documentation at the project which includes, but is not limited to:

  • The tower crane (TC) foundation (TC base) engineer stamped design drawings and soils report.
  • TC site specific erection drawings along with any written opinion about the drawings by a professional engineer.
  • TC shoring and bracing drawings.
  • TC pre-operation inspection report, signed by a professional engineer.
  • Verification from a professional engineer responsible for the building structure, that it is adequate for crane loading, should the crane be attached to the structure.
  • Certificate for the wire rope testing.
  • Documentation of non-destructive testing (NDT) for TC structural elements and fasteners, as indicated in the Professional Engineers of Ontario practice standard for tower cranes.
  • Manufacturers specification and recommendations and NDT for turn table bearings.  
  • Wire rope pendant proof test documentation.
  • TC operating manual that matches the model and type of crane.
  • Authorization to install any items which increase the wind-exposed area, including signage, etc.
  • If required, written procedures to prevent collision with another crane, structure or another object.
  • Written procedures regarding hoisting operations in proximity to overhead power lines.
  • Written procedures for climbing/extending the height of the crane and ensure the crane is plumb.
  • Proof that operation tests were conducted by a competent worker to ensure TC automatic limit switches and overload devices are installed and functioning in accordance with the regulations and the manufacturer’s specifications.

Visual inspection

Inspectors will climb the cranes and conduct a visual inspection. When climbing the cranes, inspectors may look for the following:

  • test blocks are on the project
  • power disconnect for crane with fuses and correct phasing indicator
  • the crane is properly grounded for electrical and lightning strikes
  • all electrical connectors and boxes are sealed with gaskets (3S or 4 type (water tight)
  • deformation, corrosion or cracks in structural components
  • the crane’s anchoring connections
  • the climbing ladder is securely fastened at the top and bottom
  • the climbing ladder rungs are secure not loose and have no defects
  • the landings are offset
  • cotter pins or bolts are in place
  • the operator has a safe route to and from the fall protection cage or rails from base to operator cabin, on boom and counter-jib
  • a device is in place stopping the electrical cables from becoming twisted due to more than 360 deg slewing (slewing slip ring)
  • effective guarding for mechanically operated equipment that may endanger workers
  • there is braking system redundancy if power is lost from the crane
  • sheaves free from defects and saddle the wire rope correctly
  • there are devices to guide the rope back into the sheave if it becomes slack and exits the sheave groove
  • when the load is at the top, there is at least ½” of drum flange above the cable
  • load block, hook safety catch and appropriate rigging
  • load trolley has protection from falling if a wheel fails
  • trolley travel limit device for both vertical and horizontal movement
  • the trolley brake
  • limit switches and load limit switch operation tested regularly
  • a boom angle indicator visible from the operators cabin for luffing boom tower cranes
  • a crane load rating plate in the cab
  • a wind indicator visible to operator and operational
  • a temperature indicator visible to the operator
  • operation limits for max wind and temperature indicators in the cab
  • cab orientation and location
  • cab windows are constructed of safety glass
  • cab has a windshield wiper
  • the TC has a functional weather vane mechanism
  • the crane controls are labelled with words or universal symbols
  • a fire extinguisher is available, and has it been inspected and tagged monthly

Crane log book

Inspectors will ask to see the crane log book to confirm that operational tests are being adequately performed. Inspectors will check that the following TC operations are checked for functionality daily as required:

  • hoisting and lowering
  • traversing the trolley
  • swing motion
  • slowdown brake
  • main brake
  • clutch
  • maximum load in high gear
  • maximum load in low gear
  • slow speed limit at top of hoisting limit
  • stop at top of hoisting
  • limit boom
  • load-weighing device

In addition, inspectors will check that wire rope inspections have been performed and noted and that all maintenance records for the crane are in the log book.

Resources and compliance assistance

High risk traumatic hazards – motor vehicle and mobile equipment hazards

This initiative is happening in all sectors (such as construction, health care, industrial and mining).

Phase 1: Compliance assistance

Dates: On hold due to COVID-19

Partners: Infrastructure Health and Safety Association, Public Services Health and Safety Association, Workplace Safety and Prevention Services and Workplace Safety North

The ministry will partner with the Infrastructure Health and Safety Association to:

  • deliver a sector-specific webinar before the focused inspections phase starts
  • publish motor vehicle and mobile equipment hazards compliance assistance resources and packages

Phase 2: Focused inspections

Dates: On hold due to COVID-19


Workers being struck by objects and equipment accounted for 28% of allowed lost time claims received by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) in 2018 for lost-time injuries. (Source: 2019 WSIB Statistical Report, Schedule 1).

Initiative focus

Inspectors will check that employers have assessed whether a competent or qualified operator is operating the mobile equipment. For motor vehicle and mobile equipment, common hazards include:

  • construction projects not being planned and organized to eliminate or reduce reversing of equipment or vehicles
  • effects of poorly maintained, broken, dirty or missing mirrors or windows affecting operator line of sight
  • drivers not ensuring equipment or vehicles are parked in a safe manner before leaving them unattended
  • walkways are close to areas where equipment or vehicles operate
  • lack of signs posted in prominent locations or in insufficient numbers to warn workers of the hazard in areas where vehicles may be driven in reverse
  • inadequately trained signalers and equipment operators
  • operators not stopping all movement after losing sight of or contact with signalers
  • lack of use of high visibility safety apparel or wearing apparel that is worn out
  • inadequate lighting or the presence of glare

Motor vehicle and mobile equipment

Inspectors will check that:

  • workplace parties use and maintain equipment per manufacturer’s instructions
  • employers ensure equipment operators are competent
  • workplace parties have planned the operation of equipment and pedestrian traffic
  • there is use of PPE including high visibility safety apparel as required
  • employers provide a competent signaller

Healthy workers in healthy workplaces initiative: asbestos and silica exposure

From October 1, 2020 to December 28, 2020 the ministry will run an initiative focusing on asbestos and silica exposure.

Phase 1: Compliance assistance

Dates: October 1, 2020 to December 28, 2020

Partner: Infrastructure Health and Safety Association

  • sector-specific webinar before the focused inspections phase starts
  • asbestos and silica hazards compliance assistance resources and packages

Phase 2: Focused inspections

Dates: November 2, 2020 to December 28, 2020


Asbestosis and other asbestos related diseases, and silicosis are the main sources of non-traumatic illness, disease and deaths in the construction sector.

In 2016 alone, occupational cancers were almost three times as high as traumatic injuries. From 2009-2018 the construction sector made up approximately 23% of all allowable long latency claims which included: plural plaques, mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis (WSIB By the Numbers).

The largest occupational groups exposed to silica were construction trades; labourers, heavy equipment operators, plasterers and drywallers. Building construction industry and trade contractors make up approximately 54% of all exposed workers (Carex Canada).

Initiative focus

Ministry inspectors will focus their inspections on:

  • industrial, commercial and institutional building renovation construction
  • residential renovation construction
  • demolition construction activities

Inspectors will check that:

  • hazardous substances have been identified including designated substances: in particular asbestos and silica
  • hazard assessments are being completed, and the appropriate hierarchy of controls are being applied, including personal protective equipment (PPE) as the last line of defense to protect workers engaged in renovation and demolition activities where they may be exposed to asbestos or silica
  • Employers have assessed whether the Occupational Exposure Limits (OELs) under Regulation 833 may be exceeded and that employers are taking every reasonable precaution to protect their workers from exposure
  • if removing asbestos, owners, employers and workers are following all requirements laid out in Regulation 278/05 for proper measures and procedures to be taken for the removal of asbestos
  • supervisors and workers involved in an asbestos removal operation have received the required training
  • if personal protective equipment (PPE) is required to be worn, the employer is ensuring their workers are trained in the proper selection, use and care
  • PPE is fitted and being worn properly
  • where asbestos decontamination facilities are required, set-up as prescribed by the regulation is done
  • where required, proper records are being kept
  • all required notices have been filed with the MLTSD

Resources and compliance assistance

Excavations and utility contacts

From September 1, 2020 to November 30, 2020, the ministry will run an initiative focusing on excavation cave-in prevention, precautions concerning underground services, and safe limits of approach to energized overhead electrical conductors.

Phase 1: Compliance assistance

Dates: September 2, 2020 to November 2, 2020

Partner: Infrastructure Health and Safety Association

Phase 2: Focused inspections

Dates: October 1, 2020 to November 2, 2020


A recent coroner’s jury recommendation related to an excavation fatality raised the need for an increase in cave-in/collapse awareness. The recommendation focused on the ministry increasing awareness about the hazard of trench cave-ins.

In addition, during 2019, there were a number of powerline contacts that resulted in worker fatalities. The ministry is working with the utility industry to increase awareness of the powerline contact hazards.

Initiative focus

Inspectors will check that employers have assessed the type of soil being excavated, whether shoring/sloping or engineering is required and whether locates for underground services have been obtained and are current and valid. In cases where directional boring is taking place, inspectors will be looking to see that the entire span of operation has valid/current locates.

For excavations and utilities, common hazards include:

  • cave-ins
  • utility service contact
  • contact with energized overhead electrical conductors

Inspectors will check that:

  • the type of soil has been determined in accordance with regulatory requirements
  • underground services have been accurately located and marked
  • hazardous services have been shut off and disconnected prior to excavation
  • the presence of service owner requested if services cannot be disconnected
  • there is proper support of live/active service infrastructure to prevent breakage
  • adequate shoring/sloping/engineering for excavation walls are present
  • there are signs warning of overhead energized electrical conductors where required
  • prescribed limits of approach to overhead energized electrical conductors are being maintained
  • a competent designated signaler is in place to warn equipment operators when working near overhead, energized, electrical conductors to ensure machinery remains clear of hazard
  • shoring equipment/trench boxes are in good condition
  • shoring/trench boxes are engineered where required
  • shoring/trench boxes are properly installed
  • there is an adequate access/egress method for workers in excavations
  • debris/materials/spoil piles in relation to excavation are in a safe location
  • no work is performed in a trench, shaft, tunnel, caisson or cofferdam unless another worker is working above ground in close proximity to the excavation or to the means of access to it
  • precautions specified in writing by a professional engineer are being followed to ensure the stability of structures beside an excavation where required
  • excavations are kept reasonably free of water
  • excavation walls are stripped of loose rubble/debris/snow/ice
  • the equipment/machinery/vehicles are present in proximity to the excavation/utilities
  • that, where specified by locate information, hand digging methods are being used
  • proper personal protective equipment (PPE) for directional boring operations where live utilities exist are being used
  • equipment such as directional boring/hydro-vac units have been setup in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions
  • emergency procedures for the rescue of workers are in place and being followed

Resources and compliance assistance

Supervision in construction

From May 4, 2020 to August 3, 2020, the ministry will run an initiative focusing on adequate and effective supervision in construction.

Phase 1: Compliance assistance

Dates: Phase 1: May 4, 2020 to August 7, 2020

Partner: Infrastructure Health and Safety Association

Phase 2: Focused inspections

Dates: Phase 2: July 2, 2020 to August 7, 2020


Field observations have revealed that even when corporate policies and procedures are in place, often they are not carried out by front line supervisory staff on construction projects.

Initiative focus

This initiative will focus on supervisory roles and duties on the job. Supervisors are representatives of their employer on the job: they monitor, along with the progress of the work, the health and safety conditions of the workplace. They plan the work, organize its implementation, and assign tasks to the workers they supervise. They provide them with advice and direction. They are the main channel of communication to the employer they represent and to other employers as well.

Supervisors must do their part in ensuring workers are protected, especially from high risk traumatic hazards, such as falls, struck-bys, cave-ins, and utility contacts.

Inspectors will check that:

  • supervisors have received basic occupational health and safety awareness training for supervisors and any other required training
  • the employer has appointed a competent person to be the supervisor
  • prescribed inspections by supervisors are taking place
  • supervisors are making sure workers work in compliance with the OHSA and it’s regulations
  • supervisors are making sure workers wear and use personal protective equipment as required
  • supervisors are taking every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of workers, both proactively and reactively when informed of hazardous circumstances or of contraventions
  • Supervisors are taking corrective action as required

Resources and compliance assistance