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Workplace Harassment by Sticky Note?


A public servant who responded angrily to a Post-it note left on his computer by a manager has had his one-day suspension upheld by the federal labour relations board.


Jean-Pierre Pelchat was a Statistics Canada agronomist when his supervisor, Kimberly Boyuk, left a blue sticky note on his computer monitor that read: “Come see me right away. Kim.”


Earlier that day, April 25, 2016, Pelchat had copied Boyuk on an email in which he gave a Statistics Canada client both the link to an information portal and a password for it.


Boyuk felt the email constituted a security breach and consulted with another manager; they agreed it was at least a violation of Statistics Canada protocol since it contained a password. They decided the email had to be recalled immediately.


Boyuk emailed Pelchat then walked to his desk, but he was away on lunch break. She left behind her sticky note, reasoning that he might not check his email right away.


At about 12:40 p.m., Boyuk told the labour relations board, Pelchat entered her office, shaking the blue sticky note. “This is harassment, and I don’t appreciate being treated this way,” he told her, according to Boyuk. Pelchat was angry, loud and threatening, she said.


Boyuk said she asked Pelchat to sit down, but he kept interrupting her as she tried to explain the situation. When he finished making his complaint, she said, he made “a disdainful hand gesture” and left.


Boyuk told the labour relations board that she felt threatened during the confrontation and trapped in her office.


She was left shaking, she said, and unable to comprehend the source of such rage.


When Pelchat subsequently emailed Boyuk, saying that he felt harassed by her actions, she emailed her own manager to share his complaint and report that Pelchat had been “verbally violent” in her office.


He was sent home and a workplace investigation was launched the next day.


Pelchat told the investigator that he was not angry or loud in Boyuk’s office. He spoke calmly and quietly to Boyuk about what he considered her inappropriate and aggressive sticky note, he said. He denied acting in any way threatening.


Two women who sat near Boyuk’s office said they heard nothing unusual on the day in question.


The director of Statistics Canada’s standards division, Alice Born, imposed a one-day suspension against Pelchat, who had a previous reprimand on his file for insulting a manager. Born said she felt Boyuk’s version of events was more credible.


Pelchat grieved the suspension and took his case to the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board. He argued that the discipline was unfair, malicious, and based on a flawed investigation that lacked independence.


Pelchat told the hearing he was surprised when he first saw his manager’s sticky note, which caused his throat to tighten. “It was abrupt,” he said of the Post-it.


Pelchat said he went to Boyuk’s office and told her that he didn’t like her approach and felt attacked by her sticky note. He also tried to explain, he said, that the password in his email had expired and did not pose a security issue. But his manager’s tone was aggressive, he said, and he left her office when she rose from her desk and moved towards him.


Pelchat retired three months after the incident in July 2016.


In a ruling released this week, board adjudicator Linda Gobeil ruled that the whole of the evidence favoured Boyuk’s version of events. She upheld the one-day suspension in the case.


Post-it notes have been part of workplaces since 3M introduced the canary yellow Press n’ Peel memo pad in 1977. The product was renamed Post-it Note three years later; there are now thousands of different sizes, shapes and colours.


Source: Ottawa Citizen

November 28, 2019

Written by: Andrew Duffy



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Ontario’s top 10 health & safety violations: learn how to avoid them

The Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development's latest Top 10 list of health and safety violations casts a bright light on opportunities that many Ontario workplaces may be missing.


"Information like this offers a starting point for companies that want to improve," says WSPS Account Manager Donna Beaudette. "Investing in health and safety generates returns that exceed the investment."


Where workplaces went wrong:

Based on the number of orders issued for contraventions of the Occupational Health and Safety Act and associated regulations, these are the top 10 health and safety issues and violations identified by the ministry in 2018:

  1. Workplace violence and harassment (14,000 orders)
  2. Fall protection (9,500 orders)
  3. Lack of personal protective equipment (8,600 orders)
  4. Administrative (7,700 orders)
  5. Health and safety representative and joint health and safety committee (7,100 orders)
  6. Improper access and egress (7,000 orders)
  7. Basic occupational health and safety awareness training (6,600 orders)
  8. Housekeeping and work surfaces (4,700 orders)
  9. Lack of equipment, material and protective device maintenance (4,600 orders)
  10. Lack of machine/equipment guarding (4,400 orders)

"Not all workplaces have the skillset or trained personnel to know everything about health and safety," says Donna. She suggests workplaces review the list to identify opportunities for improvement and offer six ways to move forward.


Inform yourself


1.  Know what legal requirements your workplace needs to comply with.

  • Ensure someone within your company has responsibility for health and safety. Health and safety requirements are designed to prevent injuries. They also help prevent business disruption and loss.

2.  Understand what types of risks are present in your workplace.

  • Conducting a hazard assessment will help you identify gaps in your heath and safety efforts, set priorities and allocate resources where they are needed most. Donna recommends a comprehensive assessment, however if that's not feasible, you can start with where your top injuries are occurring.

3.  Build your knowledge of hazards and best practices.



Explore opportunities for improvement


4.  Take a look at your health and safety culture.

  • Reflect on questions such as: Does production take priority over everything else? Is health and safety part of the company's mission and values statement? Does senior management talk about health and safety with supervisors and workers? Do supervisors deliver regular health and safety talks? Does the company discipline workers for health and safety infractions?

5.  Assess your joint health and safety committee's effectiveness.

  • Think about how active the committee is. Does it have the support it needs? Have committee members received the training they need to fulfil their duties? Could they benefit from training in any of the areas identified in the top 10 list? Ask the committee to review the list and watch for items on the list during inspections.

6.  Assess your supervisors' effectiveness.

  • Do they know what they need to know? Are they aware of their health and safety responsibilities and duties? Do they have the training required to meet them? Is health and safety built into their performance appraisals?

"What companies may not realize is that investing in health and safety will ultimately generate returns that exceed their investment," says Donna. "


Source: Workplace Safety & Prevention Services

November 22, 2019


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A business case for investing in workplace mental health


First-of-its-kind research from Deloitte Canada quantifies the return on investment (ROI) for Canadian firms that invest in mental health programming.


After just one year, says the study, the median annual ROI is $1.62 for every dollar invested. After three years, the ROI more than doubles to $2.18. "This research from a leading auditing and consulting firm supports the findings of Canada's mental health community that investing in workers mental well-being helps companies' bottom line," says Krista Schmid, WSPS Consultant, Workplace Mental Health.


The findings in Deloitte's ROI in workplace mental health programs:

  • Good for people, good for business to build a business case for investing in mental health programming. In fact, Deloitte is already applying the findings in its own workplaces: this fall the company increased its annual employee mental health benefits from $300 to $4,000 per person.

The research explores historical investment and savings data from seven large Canadian companies at various stages of rolling out mental health programs and supports.


It also includes interviews with these seven business leaders and three others, including Air Canada, ATB Financial, Bell, Canada Life, CIBC, Desjardins Group, Enbridge Inc., Energir, Husky Energy, and Morneau Shepell.


7 Key Findings


Deloitte's research determined that:

  • Investing in mental health programs appears to mitigate the rising costs of doing nothing.
  • Mental health issues account for 30-40% of short-term disability (STD) claims and 30% of long-term disability (LTD) claims in Canada.
  • In fact, poor mental health in the workplace costs the Canadian economy $50 billion a year, the report notes. "It's increasingly clear that doing nothing is not an option for workplaces," says Krista.

Few organizations have to start from scratch.


Take a look at your existing initiatives and gather baseline data.

  • You may already have tools in place to support mental health. "Many companies, for instance, have employee assistance, return to work and wellness programs," says Krista. "But until you do your baseline data analysis, it might not be obvious and more importantly we may not be measuring our performance with the right lens."

Include measurement in your program.

  • It's a critical success factor, says the report. It advises workplaces to track key performance indicators, assess the effectiveness of interventions with employees, and regularly calculate ROI to see how well they are progressing. ROI in workplace mental health programs includes an ROI calculator.

Programming can be phased in over time.


Follow the framework in Canada's National Standard for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace, says the report. But there’s no need to adopt it all at once.


"Not everyone has the resources or the capacity to implement all of the standard," says Krista. "The standard allows organizations to use parts of it and is a great source of helpful information and best practices."


The Deloitte report also noted that

  • Employers can boost ROI by investing first in high-impact areas. These include leadership training and preventive interventions, such as employee and family assistance programs and psychological care benefits.
  • You can weave psychological health and safety into the organizational fabric by integrating aspects of your workplace mental health program into your corporate policies and strategies.

Companies that achieved greater returns had invested in activities that support employees along the entire mental health continuum, from treatment to promoting mental health and well-being.


Source: Workplace Safety & Prevention Services

November 22, 2019



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Former Premium Fire Protection employees plead guilty to Safety Code violations

It was “common practice” for Premium Fire Protection to use unqualified or uncertified employees to work on fire safety systems, a Calgary court was told Thursday.


In an agreed statement of facts filed to support guilty pleas by former Premium worker Dustan Kurz, Judge Paul Mason was told the sprinkler fitter had raised concerns with company management about his lack of qualification to do certain jobs.


Kurz and fellow former Premium employee Clint Maton each pleaded guilty to charges under the Safety Code Act for fire code violations.


“There were repercussions for refusing to do work for Premium Fire Protection Ltd.,” City of Calgary prosecutor Paul Frank, reading from the court document, told Mason during Kurz’s proceeding.


“In response to his concerns about being unqualified to do work on life safety systems, Dustan Kurz was told by Steve Butler, the general manager of Premium Fire Protection Ltd., at . . . Kurz’s first safety meeting ‘that if I don’t like it, f— off and work somewhere else,’ ” Frank told Mason.


The document was filed in support of charges against Kurz and is not proof of wrongdoing by Okotoks-based Premium, which faces its own charges and has publicly denied any breaches of the fire and safety codes.


Frank said Kurz was hired by the company in the summer of 2018 as a journeyman sprinkler fitter, which allowed him to work on fire sprinkler systems.


“Generally speaking, Dustan Kurz worked alone in the field as an employee of Premium . . . performing work on life safety items that he was not qualified or certified to work on — including kitchen special fire suppression systems, portable fire extinguishers and emergency light checks — on a daily basis at locations across Alberta.”

Kurz’s lawyer, Bev Broadhurst, said her client, who lives in Okotoks, remains unemployed and no longer trusts the industry he’s trained to work in.


Maton, who represented himself and pleaded guilty in a separate proceeding, admitted doing work for which he wasn’t qualified.


But in a witness statement read in by Frank, Maton said he was unaware he wasn’t able to do work involving fire alarm testing and maintenance because he was told Premium owner Kurt Bertrand, who was qualified, was signing the inspections.


In his statement, Maton said many Premium employees received verbal threats if they raised concerns about doing work, they didn’t have the qualifications to do.


Maton was ordered to pay $4,600 in fines and surcharges, while Kurz must pay $5,750.


Fire department spokeswoman Carol Henke said public safety is always a priority.


“We want to remind business owners that it is their responsibility to comply with all requirements of the Fire Code, including verifying that life safety system installers are qualified and certified,” Henke said.


Soure: Calgary Herald

November 28, 2019

Article By: Kevin Martin


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MOL inspection initiative focusing on respiratory hazards

The Ministry of Labour is now inspecting workplaces with activities that produce respiratory hazards in the form of welding fumes, diesel exhaust and silica dust.


The inspections will continue until December 24 as part of the ministry's Healthy Workers in Healthy Workplaces Initiative, which began September 1.


Not sure if your workplace poses these or other respiratory hazards? "Rely on science, not your gut," says Warren Clements, WSPS Occupational Hygiene Specialist. "People may not see, hear, feel or taste exposure, and such symptoms as cancers, chemical hypersensitivity and nervous system impairment may take years to appear."


Long latency illnesses (those appearing long after exposure) due to respiratory hazards account for the greatest proportion of WSIB benefit costs, and include lung cancer, mesothelioma, pleural plaques and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).


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.


"Considerably more work needs to be done by employers in terms of risk assessment and training, and reducing exposures to workers," says Warren. Find out what inspectors will be looking for, and how you can prepare below.


Inspectors' focus


MOL Inspectors will be focusing on workplaces that

  • may be generating diesel exhaust indoors, such as in the transportation sector, and sectors using diesel powered equipment, such as warehousing and storage,
  • carry out welding activities in relation to fabricated metal manufacturing and industrial services,
  • cut, grind and polish countertop stone (e.g. granite, which contains up to 60% crystalline silica, and engineered stones, which contain approximately 90% of quartz, a type of crystalline silica) commonly manufactured for use in kitchens).

Inspectors may ask for paperwork, make observations, talk to the joint health and safety committee (JHSC), and ask questions about:

  • incidents related to hazards of silica, welding fumes and diesel exhaust exposures in the past year and what has been done to prevent recurrence,
  • the employer’s risk assessment and control program, including ventilation, safe work practices and hygiene facilities. Requirements for risk assessment and control of designated substances, such as silica, are outlined in Ontario's Designated Substances Regulation, O. Reg. 490/09,
  • methods and procedures to monitor workers and the workplace for airborne concentrations,
  • whether exposed workers are acquainted with the hazards and their health effects,
  • whether medical surveillance for exposed workers is provided where applicable,
  • whether the joint health and safety committee has reviewed control measures and procedures,
  • whether workers wearing respirators have been fit-tested and have received information and instruction for the safe use, care and maintenance of respirators.

How to prepare


Before inspectors come knocking, compare the above list against what you've got in place, says Warren. "If you've conducted exposure assessments, check your most recent readings against current occupational exposure limits. Make sure engineering controls are working as they should be, ensure workers have been trained, consider updating the sampling to find out what workers are being exposed to now, and explore all possible routes of exposure: inhalation, skin contact, eye contact, and ingestion - co-workers may be welding, grinding or operating diesel equipment around them as they eat. Then adjust your control strategy as needed.


"If you haven't done these things, take steps right away. Which steps will depend on what's missing from your program," says Warren. "This may require reaching out to a third-party consultant for assistance or revamping your procedures."


Source: Workplace Safety & Prevention Services

October 28, 2019


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How Motor Vehicle Safety Affects Your Business

What are motor vehicle incidents?


In the past 20 years, the number of Ontario citizens who died or were injured as a result of motor vehicle incidents (MVIs) has been trending downwards, making our province a road safety leader in North America. Yet, according to the WSIB (2005-2009): 

  • motor vehicle collisions on Ontario roads are the greatest single cause of, and accounted for more than 30% of all Ontario worker fatalities - making MVIs the biggest risk Ontarians face each day they go to work;
  • this number increases to 45% when we include powered industrial vehicles or powered mobile industrial equipment in the workplace; i.e. vehicles used to lift and move material, such as forklifts, pallet trucks, walkie stackers and scissor lifts.

What the law says


Ontario's Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) requires that employers take every reasonable precaution to protect workers, provide information and instruction, and ensure that workers properly use or wear the required equipment. Employers, supervisors and workers can be prosecuted for not complying with the law.


How motor vehicle safety affects your business


In 2007, the Ministry of Transportation shared information relevant to all businesses*:

  • 765 people were killed and more than 67,000 injured as a result of motor vehicle incidents on our roads and in our workplaces
  • These numbers represent 8.6 fatalities and 750 injuries for every 100,000 licensed drivers in Ontario
  • On an average day in Ontario, motor vehicle collisions will kill more than two people and injure more than 180 others

*Source: Ontario Road Safety Annual Report, 2007


Here are the four major factors leading to these fatalities:

  1. drinking and driving: 27% of total fatalities
  2. large truck crashes: 22%
  3. driver speed: 21%
  4. unbelted occupants: 20%

These are the top three driver conditions and actions that contribute to fatal collisions:


  1. impairment as a result of alcohol or drugs
  2. being inattentive (e.g., from fatigue or distractions)
  3. aggressive behaviour, such as driving too fast

What you can do


As an employer:

  • If you have workers that drive for your business, put policies and procedures in place to promote responsible driving.
  • Reward sustained responsible driving.
  • Monitor workplace driving to ensure that your workers are following your policies and procedures.

As a driver


  • Slow down: drive within the speed limit and adjust your speed for weather and road conditions. Follow vehicles at a safe distance.
  • Relax: in stressful driving conditions, take a deep breath and relax. An aggressive state of mind will come through in your driving behaviour.
  • Stay alert: don't drive until you are mentally and physically able to. If you become drowsy or uncomfortable, pull over immediately and take a break.
  • Plan ahead: plan your route before you start out. If you're unfamiliar with where you're going, check your map or plot the route with GPS, before you start off.
  • Buckle up: wearing a seat belt is the law and it could end up saving your life. Wearing your seat belt properly will dramatically increase your chances of surviving a motor vehicle collision. If you are the driver, ensure all children 16 years and under are properly secured.
  • Don't drink and drive: refuse to ride with someone who may be impaired. Plan ahead: choose a designated driver before going out or set some money aside for a taxi.

Source: Workplace Safety & Prevention Services


According to the 2018 Preliminary Road Safety Annual Report, by the MTO the statistics are as follows:

  • In 2018, 531 people were killed and more than 35,215 personal injury collisons occured  as a result of motor vehicle incidents on our roads.




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8 tips for Managing External Traffic

A mix of trucks, mobile equipment, pedestrians, bad weather, traffic jams and other potential hazards in your yard can spell disaster in the form of collisions between vehicles or vehicles and pedestrians. "If traffic is left haphazard or unpredictable, oftentimes you’ll see problems," says WSPS Consultant Norm Kramer. Reigning in the chaos means putting an exterior traffic plan in place.


"Since a lot of factors come into play, there is no one-size-fits-all solution," says Norm. "But there are best practices that can help you design your own solution." 


Eight Tips


1. Start with a hazard assessment.

  • "Sometimes companies will focus on hazard assessments inside the warehouse, but overlook the outside," explains Norm.
  • He suggests using the PEMEP principle to identify the unique hazards in your yard.
  • How could People, Equipment, Materials, Environment and Process contribute to hazards?

2. In your assessment, consider these factors:

  • traffic flow - where, when and how vehicles access and exit site,
  • pedestrian routes and potential vehicle/pedestrian collision points,
  • yard design and layout,
  • impact of weather, such as icy or slushy conditions, or water accumulation,
  • quality of road surfaces and lighting,
  • signage and pavement markings,
  • pedestrian program, communication, training, monitoring and enforcement.

3. As part of the assessment, talk to anyone with insights on what happens in the yard, such as the shunt driver, gatehouse staff, drivers, workers and other pedestrians, and the joint health and safety committee.

4. Develop a two-way traffic system that mimics what's used on outside roadways. "Drivers are programmed to follow line markings governed by the Highway Traffic Act - stop signs, solid yellow lines, crossing areas, driving on the right, etc. They should automatically follow them in the yard."

5. Determine the safest places for people to move from point to point and create pedestrian paths so people move predictably, stay at a distance from trucks, and don't walk in a driver's blind spot.

6. Ensure potential danger areas where pedestrians and vehicles intersect are well marked.

Use signs, lights and a crosshatched border (similar to roadway crosswalks).

7. Boost visibility.

Ensure all pedestrians wear high-visibility reflective vests. "And with trucks often moving in early morning and after dark, keep the yard well lit."

8. Configure the yard's design and layout to accommodate overflow traffic, prevent bottlenecks and provide room for parking and reversing. Avoid congestion by monitoring scheduled pick-ups and drop-offs.

Source: Workplace Safety and Prevention Services




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Machine, Tools and Equipment

What are Machines, Tools & Equipment?


Employees work with machines, tools and equipment every day. Workplaces couldn't operate without them; however, interacting with them has potential for serious injuries or fatalities if they are not used and maintained properly.


The potential hazards are numerous, and include:

  • Safety hazards
  • Contact with moving parts
  • Contact with electricity, heat, fire, cold, and other energies
  • Contact with pressurized gas or liquid
  • Health hazards
  • Contact with harmful chemicals or biological hazards
  • Contact with harmful noise, radiation, and/or vibration
  • Exposure to ergonomic or MSD hazards

What the law says:

  • Workplace machine safety law in Ontario is based on the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA). Regulations specified under the Act that are applicable to specific workplaces.
  • In the Act, the sections dealing with responsibilities of employers (s.25), supervisors (s.27) and workers (s.28) set out general duties with respect to machine safety.

How machines, tools and equipment safety can affect your business:

  • A safe environment is a productive workplace. Health and safety is not simply a legal obligation: it is a business opportunity.
  • You can boost your bottom line by improving health and safety performance, which reduces the costs associated with avoidable losses and lost time injuries and leads to higher productivity.

What you can do?

  • Machinery and other workplace equipment can be dangerous if not used properly.
  • Anyone using equipment in the workplace needs to be thoroughly trained in its operation and kept up to date.

Here are other ways to help staff stay safe when using equipment:

  • Keep the work area clean, tidy, well swept/washed, and well lit; floors should be level and have a non-slip surface.
  • Do not remove any guarding devices; make sure that they are in position and in good working condition before operating.
  • Follow lock-out procedures before measuring, cleaning or making any adjustments.
  • Check and adjust all safety devices before each job.
  • Wear appropriate personal protective gear as prescribed, including CSA-approved safety glasses with side shields (prescription eye wear is not a substitute).
  • Ensure that all cutting tools and blades are clean and sharp; they should be able to cut freely without being forced.
  • Ensure there is enough room around the machine.
  • Ensure that all stationary equipment is anchored securely to the floor.
  • Keep hands away from the cutting head and all moving parts.
  • Avoid awkward operations and hand positions: sudden slips could cause the hand to move into the cutting tool or blade.
  • Do not leave machines unattended: turn the power off.
  • Avoid distracting an operator; horseplay can lead to injuries.
  • Avoid wearing loose clothing, gloves, neckties, rings, bracelets or other jewelry that can become entangled in moving parts; confine long hair; do not use rags near moving parts of the machine.
  • Return all portable tooling to their proper storage place after use.
  • Clean all tools after use.
  • Do not use cutting fluids to clean hands.
  • Use a vacuum, brush or rake to remove any cuttings.
  • Do not use compressed air to blow debris from machines or from worker clothes.

Source: Workplace Safety and Prevention Services


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Critical injuries in Ontario’s construction sector continue to rise

February 1, 2018


  • In January 2017, a construction worker in Ontario slipped and fell 7.5 metres off the upper roof of a single-family home build, resulting in a loss of consciousness and fractured back and leg.
  • In September 2017, a worker spreading shingles on a roof fell 6 metres and landed on a deck, suffering a large laceration to his head and possible spinal injury. A construction worker working in an elevator shaft was killed when a piece of equipment fell on him. A  worker installing stairs for a store at the Eaton Centre in Toronto died after falling about 7 metres to a storey below.

These incidents are just a few of the injuries that have occurred in the Ontario construction sector.


Critical injuries are up:

  • 180 in 2014
  • 158 in 2015
  • 206 in 2016.

According to data from the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB), traumatic fatalities in the construction industry are up:

  • 24 in 2014
  • 19 in 2015
  • 23 in 2016.

(All statistics are represented in the fiscal year, running from April 1 of the year mentioned to March 31 of the following year.)


  • According to some members of the construction industry, the higher number of critical injuries is due, in part, to the ministry of labour expanding the definition of “critical injury” on Jan. 1, 2017.

As a result, certain injuries that had been considered to be more minor were included in the critical injury stats.


For example

  • Prior to the change, the fracture of a wrist, hand, ankle or foot was not necessarily considered a critical injury.
  • But the number of critical injuries logged between April 1 to Dec. 31, 2016 was 155, according to a Ministry of Labour data.

That means in just nine months, the number of critical injuries in 2016 was nearly on par with all the critical injuries that occurred the previous fiscal year (158).


Ian Cunningham, president of Toronto-based Council of Ontario Construction Associations, says the most likely reason for an actual increase in injuries and fatalities is the high level of construction activity underway across the province.

“You can expect that the busier you get, the more hours worked, the more new people that come into the business, there is at least an opportunity for more accidents and injuries,” he says.


  • Apart from 2008, when the recession caused a significant rise in unemployment among construction workers, construction activity in Ontario has grown every year from 2002 to the present, according to Bill Ferreira, executive director of BuildForce Canada in Ottawa. From 2002 to 2017, the number of workers employed in construction rose from about 348,000 to 500,000.
  • In 2016, construction accounted for six per cent of Ontario’s gross domestic product, making it the province’s seventh largest sector. About 30 per cent of all work-related traumatic fatalities and occupational disease fatality claims for schedule 1 workplaces occurred in the construction sector, yet the sector comprises only 6.7 per cent of all provincial employment.

The rise in incidents and fatalities are more difficult to understand in light of the many measures the Ontario Ministry of Labour has taken to improve safety on construction work sites in recent years.


  • These measures were, in part, a response to the 2009 tragedy at Metron Construction in Toronto, when a scaffold collapse killed four workers and left another seriously injured.
  • These measures have included regulatory changes and legislative amendments for the use of suspended access equipment, drill rigs, ladders and fall protection.


  • In May, the Ministry of Labour issued a Construction Health and Safety Action Plan, some of which is aimed at increasing access to information about construction regulations, boosting awareness of new working at heights requirements and improving supervisors’ communication skills. The ministry has started to implement some of the plan’s recommendations.


  • In 2015, the government introduced mandatory working at heights training for workers on construction projects who use fall protection. More than one-third (37 per cent) of traumatic fatalities were due to falls from heights in the construction sector in fiscal year 2015, which dropped to 30 per cent in 2016. By Nov. 1, 2017 about 450,000 workers had taken the training. Falls from heights is the top cause of traumatic fatalities in construction and is responsible for 43 deaths from 2010-15. The next most common cause of death doesn’t even come close to falls from heights: motor vehicle incidents were responsible for 24 deaths in construction. Struck-by or caught-in objects rounds out the top three with 17 deaths.

Colin de Raaf, Ontario training director at the Cambridge, Ont.-based Christian Labour Association of Canada (CLAC), says it will probably take time for the working at heights training to show results. The training has two facets:

  • The classroom theoretical and practical knowledge training may provide a good basis, but then there’s the application: How training is applied to the local job site makes a big difference to how effective the instruction turns out to be.

“People believe the training is sufficient, but that’s not the case. It’s just a minimum standard. As it rolls out onto the workforce, as workers get trained and get out into the workplace, the workplace improves their standards and practices on site. Then, hopefully, we will see more engaged employers, more engaged supervisors and more engaged workers. And they’ll be controlling the fall hazards,” he says.

Moreover, he adds, the training is a three-year certificate, so workers will start re-certifying in April. They will have to do a practical evaluation and demonstrate they have retained the knowledge gained in prior training to be re-certified.



Article Written by: Linda Johnson




(519) 428-9494





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The 5 most common workplace accidents on construction sites

Workplace Injuries & Fatalities on Construction Sites are Occurring at Alarming Rates in Canada


In 2015 alone, 26,000 Canadian construction workers were injured on the job and 186 were fatally injured. This article outlines the five most common workplace accidents and injuries on construction sites and provides suggestions on how to prevent them to protect your employees and your business.

1.    Slips, trips and falls



  • Slips and trips cause two-thirds of the 42,000 falls suffered by workers each year.
  • Spills, weather hazards and loose mats are frequent causes of slips, while trips are often the result of obstructed vision, poor lighting, clutter or uneven walking surfaces.

How to prevent:

  • Most hazards are easily avoidable with consistent attention to detail and proper maintenance of your work site.
  • Use signage to indicate wet areas and promptly clean up spills. Ensure work areas are clear of tripping hazards and have adequate lighting.
  • Make it imperative that your employees wear properly fitted footwear with appropriate anti-slip soles for their work conditions.

2.    Falls from heights



  • 18% of all workplace fatalities are the result of falls from heights.
  • Inadequate safety protection misused or poorly maintained equipment, and poorly lit or messy work areas are the causes of most falls from heights.

How to prevent:

  • Protect your workers and reduce your company’s liability by properly maintaining equipment such as scaffolding, platforms and ladders, and training your workers to use them correctly.
  • Install physical barriers, such as guardrails, on elevated areas, and protect openings such as skylights.
  • Keep work areas clear and ensure adequate lighting.

3.    Struck by moving vehicles



  • Struck-by and caught-in accidents caused 13% of all workplace fatalities in the last 10 years.
  • Many of these accidents are the result of workers being struck by vehicles or equipment.
  • Poor training, obstructed vision on the part of operators, and lack of high-visibility clothing for workers can also put your workers at increased risk.

How to prevent:

  • To ensure safety, your employees should avoid operating vehicles in reverse, or use reverse alarms and ensure that they are aware of and compensating for blind spots.
  • Use signalers and warning/detection systems, and post signs in high traffic areas to warn workers.

4.    Hit by flying or falling objects


  • Over 50,000 workers were injured and 81 died from contact with flying or falling objects or equipment in 2016.
  • Workers are most at risk while working under cranes, scaffolds and other overhead equipment.

How to prevent:

  • Creating exclusion zones is a critical safety measure, particularly when large objects are being moved.
  • Wearing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), including eyewear and hardhats, can save lives.
  • The use of toe boards, debris nets and properly securing items when working at heights can also help prevent accidents.

5.    Electrocution



  • Electrical injuries occur less often on work sites, but they are the most fatal.
  • In fact, 1 in 5 critical injuries and 1 in 18 non-critical injuries involving electricity result in death.
  • The danger comes from both electrical shock and arc flash.
  • Most electrical accidents are the result of improper maintenance or grounding of the equipment, unsafe operations around power lines and conductors, overloaded circuits, or exposed electrical parts or improper wiring.
  • 70% of accidental contact with power lines in the past 10 years has occurred at construction sites.

How to prevent:

  • Avoid storing equipment and machinery under power lines, as high voltage electricity can travel through the equipment causing electrical shocks.
  • Warning signs should be posted and visible at night and in all weather conditions.
  • Having a signal person in place when moving equipment around power lines and conductors can prevent accidents, as well as ensuring that workers maintain a minimum clearance from overhead electrical wires and power lines when working on ladders and scaffolds.
  • PPE for those working with or around electricity should include Class E hardhats and safety boots designed to prevent electrical shock.

Protect your workers and your business with the right insurance coverage


Preventing accidents should be your first line of defence against workplace accidents. But in the event of accidents, your second line of defence is being protected with adequate insurance coverage.


A province's governing Health and Safety Insurance Board, like the WSIB in Ontario, will cover most workplace injuries, but the type of workers eligible for this coverage can vary, particularly outside of Canada.


Ensure your subcontractors have sufficient commercial general liability (CGL) insurance coverage and are paying into their provincial Health and Safety Insurance Board.


Wrap-up liability insurance can also minimize risk as it provides shared and uniform liability coverage for both the contractor and subcontractors.




Don't wait until it's too late.  Be proactive.  Think ahead.  Be safe.


For A Safer Tomorrow                           


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Trevor Harness
May 19, 2020
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Terrilea Pitton
December 11, 2019
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