Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Ministry of Labour Consultation Period on New Mandatory Health & Safety Training for everyone


I am somewhat concerned about the impact this new MOL initiative may have on employers and business owners.  It sounds like a great idea - but who pays for the time and training?  And what will be the ROI?

Here is the MOL Link: http://www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/hs/prevention/consultations/training.php

The consultation period ends February 4, 2013. Submissions may be mailed or sent electronically to the following addresses:

Mail: Awareness Training Programs Regulation Project
400 University Ave., 12th floor
Toronto, ON M7A 1T7

Maybe I am cutting off my own consulting opportunities here - but if the Province keeps dumping legislation on to the business owner - the costs will be too high!  Just like development charges move businesses away from Niagara.  This (could) cause small businesses not to hire; to avoid compliance; to try to download their costs somehow. 

I believe that it will make it harder on businesses.  Zero accidents in Ontario sounds great.  I also believe that everyone has the right to go to work and come home again safely.  What is the cost?  What is the way to implement?  Why aren't the District School Board's including Health and Safety training in the curriculum?  The schools used to have a First Aid course as part of the curriculum. 

Why is it that Quebec can educate their students in less years than Ontario and it is not an inferior education - quite the opposite?  Quebec also has a mandatory 30 hours of health and safety training before someone can participate in construction. 

I think we can find a more economically viable way than make employers pay.

Thanks - Joy

Thursday, November 29, 2012

WSIB Chair - Elizabeth Witmer

November 29, 2012

Elizabeth Witmer – WSIB Chair spoke to a group from the EAC-CME on Tuesday, November 27, 2012.

She complemented the CME on being good lobbyists, adding that people do listen to the CME.They have decided to keep the Safety Groups going for at least one more year because of the CME lobbying for it.

Then she started to go over the changes that have been and are coming from WSIB.

WSIB is reviewing their policies annually.  They need stakeholders’ (that is you and me) input on what they are doing. 

The Arthurs’ Funding Review is bringing reforms; first there will be changes to the present classifications and corresponding rate structure.

WSIB has changed their investment portfolio realizing a 7% ROI.  Transforming the WSIB is imperative to be able to align with the changing and new workforce.

The WSIB has a $2.2 billion unfunded liability.  They are proposing changes to bring that to 60% by 2017; 80% by 2022 and fully funded by 2027.  The ways this will be accomplished are not yet set down; however, she prefers not to increase premiums.

Some things already accomplished have been:

  • Retraining has been brought in-house instead of outsourced which has seen substantial advantages.
  • A new medical strategy has immediate staff intervention with the employee and employer for return to work for those with lower back and shoulder injuries which are becoming the most common source of claims.

When questioned whether the NEER program would remain at the four years of experience ratings instead of the previous three – she commented that she had not yet been briefed regarding that issue but would be sure to bring it forward.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Stacey Electric Company Limited Fined $150,000 After Worker Killed

Ministry of Labour

Toronto, ON - Stacey Electric Company Limited, a Toronto company, was fined $150,000 on November 19, 2012, for violations of the Occupational Health and Safety Act after one worker was killed and another worker was injured.

On December 23, 2010, two Stacey Electric workers were repairing a broken beacon at a railway underpass on Bathurst St. near Dupont St. in Toronto. The beacon was on a cement median between four lanes of traffic. One worker was in the bucket of a boom truck that had been extended over a lane of traffic next to the median. The other worker was standing on the median assisting the worker in the bucket. There were no traffic control measures such as signs or traffic cones in place. While the workers were repairing the beacon, a bus struck the boom attached to the bucket holding one of the workers. The worker on the median was struck and killed by the bus and the bucket as it fell to the ground. The other worker was also injured.

A Ministry of Labour investigation found that there was no traffic protection plan in place during the repair operation.

Stacey Electric Company Limited plead guilty to failing to take the reasonable precaution of ensuring that their workers prepare a traffic protection plan for their protection.

The fine was imposed by Justice of the Peace Donald Buchanan. In addition to the fine, the court imposed a 25-per-cent victim fine surcharge, as required by the Provincial Offences Act. The surcharge is credited to a special provincial government fund to assist victims of crime.

Court Information at a Glance

Location:                    Ontario Court of Justice
                                    1530 Markham Rd.
                                    Toronto, ON

Judge:                         Justice of the Peace Donald Buchanan

Date of Sentencing:    November 19, 2012

Defendant:                  Stacey Electric Company Limited

Matter:                        Occupational Health and Safety

Convictions:                Occupational Health and Safety Act, Section 25(2)(h)

Crown Counsel:          Mike Nicol

Monday, November 19, 2012

1648133 Ontario Ltd. and Employee Fined $156,000 After Worker Injured

    Ministry of Labour
Brampton, ON - 1648133 Ontario Ltd., operator of Furmar Dixie Road, a Mississauga facility that produces asphalt, was fined $150,000 for violations of the Occupational Health and Safety Act after a worker was injured. An employee of the company, Colin Martin, was fined $6,000 in relation to the same incident.

On June 3, 2011, a truck driver arrived at Furmar Dixie Road to pick up six tons of asphalt. The driver asked about the pickup procedure at the main office and was told to drive under a silo and a horn would indicate when to load up. The driver stopped the truck after hearing the horn, believing that the truck was correctly lined up to receive the asphalt. There were no signals to indicate that the truck was in the wrong position, and the asphalt began releasing onto the cab of the truck, caving it in. The driver yelled for help, was pulled from the truck and suffered severe injuries.

1648133 Ontario Ltd. plead guilty to failing to ensure that the silo was guarded or shielded to prevent its asphalt from endangering a worker. The company also plead guilty to failing to provide the driver with adequate information, instruction and supervision regarding the asphalt loading process. It was fined $75,000 for each offence.

When Ministry of Labour personnel went to investigate the incident they tested the system of photo sensors intended to prevent the release of asphalt if a truck was not lined up correctly. The testing, done in the control tower, showed the sensors for one of the silos were not working. Mr. Martin, who was in the control tower with the ministry personnel, left the room, returned and asked that they test the silo again. This time it worked. When questioned, Mr. Martin told the inspector for the first time that there was a control box that would allow the sensors to be bypassed. He had turned off the sensor bypass to the silo without the inspector's knowledge or permission.

Colin Martin plead guilty to altering the scene without the inspector's permission to do so.
The fines were imposed by Justice of the Peace Michael Barnes. In addition to the fines, the court imposed a 25-per-cent victim fine surcharge, as required by the Provincial Offences Act. The surcharge is credited to a special provincial government fund to assist victims of crime.

Court Information at a Glance
Location:                    Ontario Court of Justice
                                    5 Ray Lawson Blvd.
                                    Brampton, ON

Judge:                         Justice of the Peace Michael Barnes

Date of Sentencing:     November 13, 2012

Defendants:                 1648133 Ontario Ltd.
                                    Colin Martin

Matter:                         Occupational Health and Safety

Convictions:                 Ontario Regulation 851, Section 26
                                    Occupational Health and Safety Act, Section 25(2)(a)
                                    Occupational Health and Safety Act, Section 51(2)

Crown Counsel:           Catherine Glaister

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Director Jailed and Companies Fined After Failing to Pay Employees

Ontario Newsroom Ontario Newsroom
News Release

November 8, 2012

McGuinty Government Reaffirms Commitment to Protecting Workers

The Ontario Court of Justice  has sentenced Steven Blondin, a director of six Ontario companies, to 90 days in jail for violations of the Employment Standards Act after failing to pay employees.
Between March 2007 and October 2009, 61 employees from six companies, operated by Blondin filed claims with the Ministry of Labour for unpaid wages.  An investigation by the ministry found that wages were owed to all 61 employees. 
Between February 2008 and April 2010, an employment standards officer issued 113 orders to the six companies and Blondin to pay over $125,000. None of the orders were paid.
Blondin and each company pleaded guilty to failing to comply with the ministry's orders.
In addition to the jail term and fines totaling   $280,000, Blondin and his companies were ordered to pay the wages owing to the employees along with a 25 per cent victim fine surcharge, as required by the Provincial Offences Act.
Protecting workers on the job is part of the McGuinty government's continued commitment to ensuring all Ontarians are treated fairly, while creating jobs.


  • The six companies owned and operated by Blondin include Steven’s Inc. of Orangeville, Axcea International Inc. of Toronto, Automotive Containment Solutions Inc. of Concord, Automotive CSI Inc. of Richmond Hill, Automotive CSI – Alliston Inc., and Automotive CSI – Newmarket Inc.
  • The sentences were imposed by Justice of the Peace Vladimir Bubrin in Toronto.
  • Since 2004, the Ministry’s Employment Standards Program has recovered more than $90 million in wages and other monies owed to employees through inspections, claims and collections.
  • The Ministry of Labour prosecutes persons, including corporations, for violations of the Employment Standards Act, 2000 and its regulations to ensure compliance.
  • A victim fine surcharge is required under the Provincial Offences Act and contributes to a special provincial government fund to assist victims of crime.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Do you know what the IRS stands for in Ontario Occupational Health and Safety?

November 2, 2012

The Ontario Ministry of Labour has been prosecuting violations of the Occupational Health and Safety Act by employers, with hefty penalties and fines.

Most of these violations involve the employers omission in training their employees of certain hazards.  The Ontario Ministry of Labour has found a violation in the omission of training in certain workplace operations of machinery,  that none of the workers had received traffic control training and a traffic control plan was not in effect, that the employer failed to ensure that the work surface was kept free of slip and fall hazards, and there are many more.

We do not have accidents in Ontario workplaces.  If you remember the ads the Prevention division of the WSIB released a few years ago - it was scary stuff!  Horrible things happened to people in the workplace who did not follow the OHSA or whose employer did not train them in proper procedures.

Where does the employee fall in all of this?

Perhaps, it is a little like Scott Street in St. Catharines.  If you have ever had the privilege of driving down that street you will notice the many traffic stop signals that have been installed.  Let me mention here that except for major intersections; those are not preventive measures taken - they are completely reactive.  Each of those "extra" traffic signals  represents someone who was killed while crossing Scott Street.  Crossing without going to a nearby intersection.  Crossing in the middle of the street.  The reaction of the City because the public outcry for something to be done demanded an action.  The re-action was another traffic signal.  It was a horrible way to die for a young student and for an elderly grandmother.  I hope that these additional traffic signals prevent it from happening again.

In the workplace, Justice Ham instituted the Internal Responsibility System.  It was a reaction.  However, it was after a careful investigation into what happened in a terrible workplace "accident".

The triangle of responsibility that he designed puts the Province of Ontario at the top.  They pass legislation and regulations that are made to protect workers.

Then the first stop in the bottom of the triangle is the employer, who is legislated to take all measures to keep employees safe.

The next stop in the triangle is the employees who are in the workplace.  Essentially, the foundation of this structure is the relationship between the employer and the employees.  Each communicating to the other about any possible hazards that may be in the workplace.  Then each taking responsibility for taking all measures to make sure that the workplace is safe.

I feel like I am repeating myself.  Everyone is responsible to make sure the workplace is safe because the Province of Ontario does not have any accidents!

It is extremely difficult for the Justice in these cases to charge an employee who has been killed or injured.  The employer is found to be at fault.  Common sense tells us that often the employee should not have been doing what they were doing.  Still, the employer is at fault.

Even when an employee is rushing at the end of the day to finish on time, early, or if working on piece work - to make an extra few bucks for their family - when tragedy strikes; the employer is at fault.

The employer may have set up an accident by using a compensation method that doesn't allow employees to take their time on a more dangerous job.  The employer may have given a young worker a chance to have his first job even without experience and paired him with a more experienced worker who was taking chances.

However, regardless of the Internal Responsibility System that is in place in the Province of Ontario; the employer pays the penalty with his cash and the employee pays the penalty with his life.

When will we learn that employees also have a duty to mitigate the dangers in the workplace.  They also have a responsibility to use common sense on the job.  They also must give up the chance for the extra buck by slowing down and doing the job safely.

The OHSA is like Scott Street for me.  It is the reaction to many injuries in the workplace over the years.  A collection of decisions so that this will not happen again.  It is also a collection of common sense.  Use it or lose it!

The Province of Ontario is regulating workplaces to use common sense.  Employers must train their employees properly and to use common sense.

Employees must use common sense to come home from work each day - alive and in one piece.

It is our right in Ontario workplaces.

Other information links:

Safety is ultimately employer’s responsibility, not committee’s: Arbitrator

This is an interesting decision - the union grieved extra PPE protection for its' members.

Joint health and safety committee had power to prescribe safety equipment but employer could still do so without committee’s recommendation
November 2, 2012

The health and safety of employees is ultimately the responsibility of the employer and can’t be delegated to a joint health and safety committee, an Ontario arbitrator has ruled.

Gerdau Ameristeel, a steel manufacturing company, introduced a policy in its Whitby, Ont., plant requiring employees to wear chin straps on their safety headgear. The union grieved the policy, noting that the collective agreement required Gerdau to take all reasonable precautions for the safety of employees — in line with health and safety legislation — and to provide all personal protective equipment prescribed by the joint health and safety committee. The union argued this gave the power to approve safety equipment to the joint committee, not the company.

The arbitrator found that the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act placed the main responsibility for employee health and safety with the employer, including the assigning of personal protective equipment. This legal responsibility did not diminish with the existence of a joint health and safety committee and a collective agreement allowing the committee to recommend safety equipment, said the arbitrator. If the employer didn’t have the ability to dictate equipment, then it would be susceptible to being charged and prosecuted for safety conditions over which it had no control.

The arbitrator ruled that Gerdau was entitled to prescribe personal protective equipment for employees, independent of the joint health and safety committee, regardless of the collective agreement provision giving the committee a say in prescribing equipment. The greivance was dimissed.

“Although I do not doubt this union’s commitment to the safety of its members, I do not believe that the employer can avoid its legal obligation, even when acting in good faith, to take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for theprotection of a worker,” said the arbitrator.

For more information see:

Gerdau Ameristeel v. U.S.W., Local 6571, 2012 CarswellOnt 9066 (Ont. Arb. Bd.).
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