Inspection blitz results: Machine guarding and electrical hazards
Results of a province-wide enforcement blitz that focused on machine guarding and electrical hazards at industrial workplaces from January 15 to February 28, 2018.
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During a blitz from January 15 to February 28, 2018, Ministry of Labour inspectors:
- conducted 842 field visits with 114 support role activities
- visited 694 industrial workplaces
- issued 3,777 orders and requirements under the Occupational Health and Safety Act and its regulations, including 107 stop work orders
Inspectors checked that employers were complying with the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and its regulations at industrial workplaces. This included checking that employers were taking appropriate action to identify and control hazards to protect workers.
The goals of the inspection blitz were to:
- raise awareness of key health and safety hazards at industrial workplaces
- verify regulatory requirements were being met
- increase workplace compliance with the law
- prevent injuries and illness that could arise from unsafe work practices
Machine guarding and electrical hazards
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.
In 2016, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board received 2,653 claims from workers for lost-time injuries involving machine guarding and electrical hazards – injuries that resulted in workers having to take time off work. These included:
- 1,773 claims involving compression by equipment or objects or collapsing material
- 347 claims rubbing or abrasion by friction, pressure or jarring by vibration
- 37 claims involving electrocutions, electric shock
- 27 claims involving burns (electrical)
- 383 claims involving amputations or enucleations (removal of an eye)
Workplace inspection blitzes
Inspection blitzes are part of our Safe At Work Ontario compliance strategy. We announce to the sector, in advance, that we will be doing a blitz, although individual workplaces are not notified in advance. The results of the blitz 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.
Common hazards when working around machinery
Inspectors checked on specific safety issues, such as:
- guarding: Inspectors checked that employers ensured pinch points and other hazardous locations on equipment had guarding devices. Inspectors also checked that employers had conducted a pre-start review when required in factories
- locking and blocking: Inspectors checked that employers had ensured workers were following lockout procedures to prevent machines from starting when the machines were opened or when guarding devices were removed and blocked to prevent accidental movement, when required
- electrical hazards: Inspectors checked that employers were ensuring the power supply to electrical installations, equipment and conductors was disconnected, locked out of service and tagged before or during any work being done on or near live exposed parts of installations, equipment or conductors
- power line contact: Inspectors checked that employers were taking every reasonable precaution to protect workers who were at risk of coming in contact with an overhead power line while performing maintenance work on a roof or a roof repair
- worker and supervisor health and safety awareness training: Inspectors verified that employers had their supervisors and workers complete basic mandatory supervisor and worker health and safety awareness training
- Internal responsibility system (IRS): Inspectors checked that a health and safety representative or JHSC, if required, was in place and that they were functioning as required under the OHSA
- policies and programs: Inspectors checked that employers had policies and programs in place to protect workers from hazards in the workplace
Inspectors took appropriate action if violations were found under the OHSA or its regulations. This included:
- writing orders to employers, supervisors and workers to make them comply with legal requirements
- requiring employers to provide information to the inspector
- issuing stop work orders requiring employers to comply before work could continue
Inspection activity summary
Visits to workplaces
- 842 field visits with 114 support role activities
- 694 workplaces visited
- 3,777 orders and requirements issued
- 65 requirements issued to provide an inspector with workplace information
- an average of 4 orders and requirements issued per workplace visited
- an average of 5 orders and requirements issued per visit
Most frequently issued orders
During the blitz, the most frequently issued orders under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) involved employers’ failure to:
- maintain equipment, materials and protective devices in good condition [s. 25(1)(b)] – 282 orders or 7.5% of the total orders and requirements issued
- take every precaution reasonable to protect workers’ health and safety [s. 25(2)(h)] – 186 orders or 4.9% of the total orders and requirements issued
- post a copy of the OHSA in the workplace [s. 25(2)(i)] – 159 orders or 4.2% of the total orders and requirements issued
- prepare a health and safety policy for the workplace [s. 25 (2)(j)] – 109 orders or 2.9% of the total orders and requirements issued
The most frequently issued orders under the Regulation for Industrial Establishments were for employers’ failure to:
- prevent access to an in-running nip hazard [s. 25] – 295 orders or 7.8% of the total orders and requirements issued
- thoroughly examine a lifting device [s. 51 (1)(b)] – 220 orders or 5.8% of the total orders and requirements issued
- prevent access to a moving part [s. 24] – 207 orders or 5.5% of the total orders and requirements issued
- secure a load to prevent tipping or falling [s. 46] – 79 orders or 2.1% of the total orders and requirements issued
The most frequently issued orders under the Occupational Health and Safety Awareness and Training regulation were for employers’ failure to:
- provide worker training [s. 1.1] – 168 orders or 4.5% of the total orders and requirements issued
- provide supervisor training [s. 2.1] – 153 orders or 4.1% of the total orders and requirements issued
Inspectors visited workplaces in various sectors.
Support role activities
|Wood and metal fabrication||181||231||1,291||60||39|
|Vehicle sales and service||44||52||204||4||2|
|Food, beverage and tobacco||38||45||168||0||7|
|Chemical, rubber and plastics||27||32||143||2||8|
During the blitz:
- 2% of all orders and requirements were issued to workplaces in the wood and metal fabrication sector. A high percentage of orders and requirements were also issued to workplaces in the industrial services (8.2%) and automotive (6.8%) sectors
- 3% of all orders and requirements were issued for machine guarding violations
- an average of 4.5 orders were issued per field visit
Conclusion and next steps
Continued enforcement is needed to improve the health and safety of workers who operate machines with exposed moving parts and in-running nip hazards.
The ministry will continue to target machine guarding and electrical safety hazards during routine inspections of workplaces in Ontario’s industrial sector. During visits, inspectors will continue to check that employers are ensuring:
- machines are equipped with, and guarded by, a device that prevents access to a moving part that may endanger a worker’s safety
- machines are equipped with, and guarded by, a device that prevents access to a pinch point
- an employer’s equipment, materials and protective devices are maintained in good condition
- workers and supervisors complete a basic occupational health and safety awareness training program
- the power supply to electrical installations, equipment or conductors is disconnected, locked out of service and tagged before or during any work done on or near live exposed parts of installations, equipment or conductors
The ministry will continue to raise awareness of hazards involving unguarded machines and electrical hazards.
A key to workplace health and safety in Ontario is the workplace’s internal responsibility system.
One of the primary purposes of the OHSA is to facilitate a strong IRS in the workplace. To this end, the OHSA lays out the duties of employers, supervisors, workers, constructors and workplace owners. Workplace parties' compliance with their respective statutory duties is essential to the establishment of a strong IRS in the workplace.
Everyone – including employers, supervisors, workers, health and safety associations and the government – has a key role to play in taking responsibility for health and safety in the workplace. This is essential to preventing worker injuries and deaths.
Workplace parties are encouraged to work together to identify and control hazards involving machine guarding.
Help for employers
Please contact our health and safety partners for more information on machine guarding and electrical hazards.
- footnote Back to paragraph Activities in which professional services staff (e.g. a hygienist, ergonomist, engineer etc.) or another inspector accompanies an inspector on a field visit to provide professional support and/or expertise.