Health and safety inspection blitz: Protecting industrial workers from falls
The Ontario government’s occupational health and safety inspectors will target industrial workplaces in May 2010 to protect workers from hazards that can cause slips, trips and falls. This is the third MOL Safe at Work Ontario inspection blitz focused on fall hazards in industrial workplaces.
According to the results of the last industrial fall blitz, the risk of falls continue to be an issue in all industrial workplaces, including transportation, education, industrial services, retail, wholesale and construction workplaces and premises; and all these types of industrial workplaces will be inspected.
This time, inspectors will focus on:
- Falls from heights: this includes all tasks and activities that may cause falls from heights, the primary focus of the blitz. Platforms, raised floors, mezzanines and balconies can pose risks to workers. Inspectors will look for proper guarding and fall-arrest equipment, and check that workers are trained on their use.
- Falls from ladders, mobile ladder stands and platforms: Inspectors will make sure workers who use these types of equipment follow best practices; these include: not using ladders as work platforms; ensuring equipment is on a sound, firm footing; maintaining three-point contact (two hands and a foot, or two feet and a hand); using equipment that is appropriate in the circumstances (designed and constructed for industrial applications and maintained in good condition); following the manufacturers’ recommendations for use and maintenance of equipment.
- Mobile equipment: Some workers in this sector use mobile equipment such as cranes and lift trucks. Inspectors will check for proper use of these devices. Inspectors are particularly concerned about reach trucks and fall-distance calculations, making sure that workers use lanyards at appropriate heights.
- Falls into liquids: Life jackets are one way to protect workers from drowning. In other instances, guards, tethers or other fall-protection methods may be the best form of prevention.
- Logging and trucking: Workers may be exposed to fall hazards from the beds of trucks and trailers, as well as from the tops of loads.
- Same-level falls (trips and slips): Inspectors will check floors and other surfaces workers use, and pedestrian traffic areas (walkways, aisles and building exits). These areas must be kept free of obstructions, hazards and accumulations of refuse, snow and ice.
Safety associations are a great source of information and provide several resources and tools on how to prevent the risk associated with workplace specific hazards including slips and falls. A link to the various Ontario safety association can be found at www.preventiondynamics.com
Human Resources and Compliance Managing Editor