Inadequate machine guarding along with faulty or sidestepped lockout procedures are among the most dangerous hazards faced by workers in industrial workplaces such as forestry, paper, printing and converting sectors. These machinery-related hazards are typically among the top causes of major injuries in these workplaces. That’s why the Ministry of Labour (MOL) will be conducting an inspection blitz on machine guarding from November 3 to December 14, 2014.
“During the machine guarding health and safety inspection blitz, MOL inspectors will check that employers are protecting workers from dangerous machinery,” says Tom Welton, Director of Industrial at Workplace Safety North. “And that includes the use of lockout procedures to prevent access to moving parts, as well as preventing unsafe exposure to dusts, solvents, and other byproducts from production.”
2012 Inspection blitz results
In October and November 2012, Ministry of Labour inspectors made 1,608 visits to 1,116 Ontario workplaces and issued 5,392 orders, including 170 stop work orders. A stop work order is used when an inspector sees an immediate danger to the health and safety of a worker, including the use of unguarded machinery. Once the employer complies with the directives indicated, the ‘stop work’ order is lifted.
“According to the number of stop work orders, 15 per cent of Ontario workplaces were so dangerous inspectors had to put a halt to production,” says Welton. “That’s more than one in every 10 Ontario businesses. Imagine if your son or daughter, or brother or sister, worked at – or owned – such a business; all the more reason to ensure everyone is safe.”
Top three orders in 2012 blitz
Sadly, the three most frequently issued orders during the 2012 inspections involved failure of employers to:
- Carry out duties to protect workers, including a failure to maintain machinery and provide information and supervision to workers;
- Comply with requirements to prevent workplace violence and harassment;
- Provide adequate guards and other devices for machines and equipment.
Source: Ministry of Labour
Targeted sectors and priorities for 2014 blitz
Over the next couple of months, Ontario Ministry of Labour inspectors from the industrial program will be targeting specific industrial sectors: wood and metal fabrication, manufacturing, chemical and plastics, automotive, sawmills, food and beverage, tobacco, pulp and paper, textiles, and printing.
- Guarding: All pinch points and other hazardous locations on equipment have guarding devices. Guarding is required where there are moving parts, in-running nip hazards or pinch points, such as power transmission interfaces and shear points.
- Locking and blocking: Workers always follow lockout procedures to prevent inadvertent machine start-up during maintenance and troubleshooting. Ideally, equipment is designed so repairs and maintenance are conducted without having to reach into dangerous spots, and without the need to remove guards and other protective devices. Lockout procedures typically involve bringing the machine to a complete stop and disconnecting all power sources. Blocking is an extra step that must be carried out to prevent the equipment from moving if there is potential for residual energy that has not been dissipated, for example, when hydraulics fail.
- Musculoskeletal disorder prevention: You’ve addressed potential MSD hazards associated with guarding ergonomics, such as awkward postures or forces required to work around guards, or to install and remove guards.
- Maintenance: Equipment is maintained in good condition, and damaged components are repaired or replaced.
- Training and supervision: Always provide appropriate information and supervision to workers, such as training on proper guarding and lockout procedures.
- Internal Responsibility System (IRS): Appropriate Health and Safety Representatives or Joint Health and Safety Committees are in place and functioning properly; and legislative requirements set out by the Occupational Health and Safety Act are being followed.
- Occupational disease prevention: Take adequate measures, including WHMIS training, to protect workers from exposure to chemicals that could cause an occupational disease – a condition that results from worker exposure to a chemical agent to the extent that the worker’s health is impaired.
- Metalworking fluids and degreasing solvents: In particular, focus on metalworking fluids and degreasing solvents. Metalworking fluids comprise a range of oils and other liquids used to cool and lubricate metal work pieces when they are being machined, ground, milled, etc. Workers can be exposed through skin contact or inhalation. Solvent degreasing is a process to prepare a part for further operations, such as electroplating and painting. Typically it uses petroleum- or alcohol-based solvents to dissolve machining fluids and other contaminants on the part. Exposure can occur through skin contact and inhalation.
- Policies and programs: Required policies and programs are in place to protect workers from hazards in the workplace. Program elements of a policy include some of the following: worker training on chemicals (especially metalworking fluids and degreasing solvents), machine guarding and lockout.
New training available in Ontario
The new 'Safe Use of Machinery' training course offered by Workplace Safety North is a way for employers, supervisors and workers to acquire the necessary knowledge and skills to recognize, assess and control machine-related hazards before anyone is injured by them.
“The course is designed to increase knowledge and raise awareness so that, by the end, participants will be able to do three things,” says Welton. “One: to be able to describe hazards associated with the use of workplace machinery and how injuries can occur. Two: to identify relevant legislation, standards and guidelines that apply to workplace machinery, and three: understand and describe acceptable ways to control the hazards. After this specialized course, workers are empowered and better able to protect themselves and their co-workers.
“One of the keys to workplace health and safety in Ontario is the internal responsibility system,” says Welton. “From employers, supervisors, and workers, to health and safety associations and the government, we all have key roles to play in ensuring a healthy and safe workplace.”
For more information on identifying, preventing and controlling these hazards, please contact your local Workplace Safety North health and safety consultant-trainer.
Resources and tools
Machine guarding gauge – Folding pocket-size scale helps you assess hazardous openings and appropriate barrier size.
Internal Responsibility System - Safety Meeting Package includes PowerPoint presentation, leader's guide, and participant manual.
Machine safety videos include Mobile Machine Lockout, Lockout: Control of Energy Hazards, You’re Responsible Too, and Planned Workplace Inspection.
Safe Use of Machinery – Forestry, and Paper, Printing and Converting sectors
JHSC Certification Part 2 Workplace-Specific Hazard Training: Machine Safety – Paper, Printing and Converting Sector
Resources for JHSC Certification Training Part 2 – Printing and Converting Sector includes hazard identification tools, employee discomfort and machine safety surveys, risk matrix, etc.