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On February 2nd the Minister of Labour, Peter Fonseca, visited Industrial Safety Trainers training centre to announce the newest safety blitz for February.

Inspectors will be traveling around the province for lift truck related infractions. The blitz was prompted in part by results of a similar blitz in February 2009: inspectors visited 1,295 workplaces and issued 4,172 orders — 50% more orders per visit than usual for the ministry’s Industrial Program in that fiscal year.

Similar to the 2009 blitz, inspectors will focus on:

  • Lifting device inspection and maintenance — the subject of one third of orders issued in the 2009 blitz (see “2009 lift truck related orders” for more inspection blitz results)
  • Safe work environment. This includes pedestrian traffic and workplace environment issues (e.g., equipment guarding, eyewash fountains, material handling, keeping floors free of hazards/obstructions, securing machinery from tipping or falling, guardrails, securing compressed gas cylinders, and securing vehicles from unintended movement)
  • Operator competency, i.e., whether workers have received adequate training
Inspectors will especially be interested in the following subsectors:
  • Wood and metal fabrication — in 2009, this subsector received the most orders issued (796), field visits (304), and stop work orders (45)
  • Wholesale — orders (436), field visits (194), stop work orders (32)
  • Retail — orders (371), field visits (162), stop work orders (25)
  • Mushroom farms and greenhouse operations, new this year and triggered by a recent fatality involving a forklift
Other subsectors with a higher likelihood of incidents involving lifting devices will also be the target of blitz safety inspections and likely to receive special attention — include: transportation • automotive • food, beverage and tobacco • offices and related services (agencies supplying non–clerical labour) • chemical, rubber and plastics.
Throughout the coming year, inspectors will be following up with all workplaces that received an order during this blitz, to determine whether they have maintained compliance.
Advice from Randy Dignard
Business owners in Ontario need to ensure that workers are trained in the tasks they are being asked to do, that lift trucks are in good working condition, and that the hazards associated with lift truck traffic have been reduced.
  • Review the way materials are being transported through your facility, how they are stored on racks or the way they are stacked. 
  • Are your forklift operators using the trucks they way they were trained to do or are they taking short cuts?
  • Are your supervisors allowing workers to work in unsafe ways?
  • All of the above are the leading contributors to forklift related accidents.
Some surprising statistics include:
Ministry data indicate 13 deaths resulted from incidents involving lift trucks, reach trucks, forklifts and tow motors in industrial sector workplaces from January 2003 to December 2007.
Occupational Health and Safety Council of Ontario (OHSCO) data for 1996 to 2008 show 10,308 incidents related to forklifts that resulted in lost–time injury (LTI) claims to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB).
WSIB statistics for forklifts in all sectors (industrial and others) for 2003–2007 indicate that the WSIB allowed 4,536 claims involving 303,825 lost workdays. The average forklift–related LTI claim resulted in 67 days lost from work.
2009 lift truck related orders
  • 34% (1059) — lifting device inspection and maintenance
  • 24% (750) — safe work environment
  • 4% (133) — operation of the lifting device by a competent person
  • 8% (260) — Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) sections 8 (health & safety representative) and 9 (joint health & safety committee)
  • 5% (159) — employer responsibilities, OHSA section 25: duty of employers to prepare and review a written OHS policy, develop and maintain a program to implement that policy, and post in the workplace a copy of the policy and the OHSA
  • 4% (117) — requirements relating to the Workplace Materials Hazardous Information System (WHMIS) regulation
A blitz on hazards involving suspended platforms at construction sites began in mid-January, and will last 90 days.