Overview

Health and safety inspection initiatives are part of the Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skill Development’s (MLITSD) commitment to meeting requirements outlined in the ministry’s five-year occupational health and safety strategy, Prevention Works.

We announce these initiatives to sectors in advance. However, we do not identify individual workplaces before conducting a health and safety inspection.

Results from provincial initiatives are posted online. 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, Immigration, Training and Skills Development inspectors are responsible for enforcing the OHSA and its regulations at workplaces across the province. 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.

High risk traumatic hazards – struck-by, motor vehicle and mobile equipment hazards

This initiative is taking place in all sectors, such as:

  • construction
  • health care
  • industrial
  • mining

Phase 1: Compliance assistance

Dates: April 1, 2022 to June 30, 2022

Partners for this initiative include :

The ministry will partner with the health and safety associations to:

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

Phase 2: Focused inspections

Dates: May 1, 2022 to June 30, 2022

Rationale

Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) traumatic fatality statistics show that motor vehicle incidents cause more traumatic fatalities each year than any other type of event.

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

In a similar focused inspection during a material handling blitz from September 15 to October 26, 2014, ministry inspectors conducted 841 visits to 701 workplaces and issued 3,263 orders under the OHSA and its regulations. This included 130 stop work orders.

For the period April 1, 2013, to March 31, 2016, there were 17 fatalities and 32 critical Injuries due to a “struck by” cause for workplaces covered under the industrial program. (Source: MLITSD Data).

Initiative focus

Inspectors will check that employers have assessed motor vehicle and mobile equipment hazards in underground and surface mines.

Common hazards are:

  • slippery substances like spills, snow and ice
  • debris or obstructions in walkways
  • improperly maintained equipment (for example, ladders)
  • dirty work areas and surfaces
  • unsafe use of ladders
  • poor lighting
  • changes in walkway levels and slopes
  • unsecured mats
  • unsuitable footwear
  • falls from beds of elevated platforms, trucks, trailers or loads
  • smoke, steam or dust obscuring view
  • lack of guardrails
  • access in and out of mobile equipment in mines
  • traffic in mines

Resources and compliance assistance

Storage, use and handling of explosives in surface and underground mines

Phase 1: Compliance assistance

Dates: July 15, 2022 to September 30, 2022

The ministry will partner with  Workplace Safety North (WSN)

Phase 2: Focused consultations and compliance assistance

Dates: August 1, 2022 to September 30, 2022

Rationale

The potential for serious or fatal injury, as well as significant property damage, is always present where explosives are used.

The security and accountability for explosives and detonators must be maintained to ensure that they are not removed from mine sites and are only used for their intended purposes. Workers must be properly trained before being assigned to use and/or handle explosives. The Mining Safety Review identified explosives as one of the hazards in mining. Feedback from field staff indicates the value of this blitz.

Initiative focus

Inspectors will focus on:

  • requirements related to magazines located on surface and underground
  • weekly inspections and magazine log books are completed
  • proper housekeeping, cleanliness and proper disposal of packaging and wrappings at magazines
  • procedures for inspection and cleaning of equipment used with explosives prior to servicing or repairs
  • procedures for storage areas that are not magazines
  • procedures for safe handling of explosive products have been developed 
  • Workers assigned to transport and handle explosives have been trained in explosives handling procedures
  • equipment used to transport explosives are properly maintained and equipped with required warning devices
  • precautions and procedures for transporting explosives with mobile equipment or shaft conveyance are communicated and enforced
  • employers are submitting the required “Notice of Use or Storage” annually or prior to use as appropriate
  • employers have been and will continue to report to the MLITSD any occurrence of defective explosive products as required
  • employers have been and will continue to report to the MLITSD any occurrence of careless placing or handling of explosives and detonators as required

Resources and compliance assistance

Occupational Health and Safety Act

Regulations for Mines and Mining Plants

Explosives Regulations

Security Plan Guideline

Healthy worker healthy workplace initiative – occupational disease

Healthy workers in healthy workplaces focuses on  issues related to occupational diseases. This initiative is taking place in all sectors (such as construction, health care, industrial and mining). In the mining sector, the focus of the initiative will be requirements for air quality in mines and mining plants, pits, quarries for exposures to dust, silica, diesel particulate matter (DPM), Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) for chemicals and re-agents at mining workplaces.

Phase 1: Compliance assistance

Dates: October 3, 2022, to December 30, 2022

The ministry will partner with Workplace Safety North.

Phase 2: Focused inspections

Dates: October 31, 2022 to December 30, 2022

Rationale

Between 2008 and 2017, long latency illnesses — illnesses in which there is a long delay between exposure to a disease-causing agent and the appearance of disease symptoms —accounted for the largest proportion of allowed Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) benefit costs. 70% of allowed long latency illness claims over the past 10 years come from: lung cancer, pleural plaques, mesothelioma, asbestosis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which are all associated with respiratory exposures.

Cancer Care Ontario and the Occupational Cancer Research Centre estimate that exposure to asbestos, diesel engine exhaust, crystalline silica and welding fumes cause approximately 1,300 cancer cases a year in Ontario.

Working in a closed underground environment, miners can be exposed to airborne hazards such as diesel emissions and silica, putting them at higher risk of developing occupational illness.

During the ministry’s 2019 Safe At Work Ontario consultations, the mining industry indicated a need to raise awareness of procedures current with WHMIS requirements at workplaces. Our health and safety association partner WSN suggests attention to air quality for occupational disease. Mine Safety Review ranked Occupational disease — respiratory exposure hazards in top 10.

From October 31, 2022 to December 30, 2022, the ministry will conduct an initiative on air quality in mines and mining plants.

Initiative focus

In mining workplaces, inspectors will check that employers:

  • are following requirements for air quality in mines and mining plants, pits, quarries for exposures to dust, silica, diesel emissions in underground mines, chemicals and re-agents at workplaces
  • are diluting or removing contaminants to prevent worker exposure that is above legal limits
  • are testing for diesel emissions and diesel particulate matter (see the guidelines on testing undiluted exhaust in underground mines and sampling for diesel particulate matter in mines)
  • are completing occupational exposure monitoring in areas of known or expected exposures
  • have assessments and control programs in place for designated substances (for example, silica) and dust
  • follow WHMIS
  • label properly
  • worker education is complete
  • communication of the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals components is done

Resources and compliance assistance