A new month, a new blitz! In keeping with its practice of conducting new health and safety “blitzes” every month, the Ministry of Labour has announced that its inspectors will be focussing on the protection of young and new workers during the month of June.
During such blitzes, Ministry inspectors are to take a “zero tolerance” approach to violations of the Occupational Health and Safety Act and its regulations. The goal is to promote compliance and reduce injuries. These blitzes are part of the Ministry’s broader “Safe at Work Ontario” program aimed at improving compliance and reducing injuries.
This blitz is to focus on workers aged between 14 to 24 years and new workers older than 24 who have been on the job less than six months or who have been reassigned to a new job. According to the Ministry’s press release, its inspectors will give special emphasis to retail stores, wholesalers, restaurants, vehicle sales, service outlets and businesses involved in tourism, such as golf courses. Municipal work sites, farming operations and construction sites are not to be targeted.
Under the Safe at Work Ontario program, employers with a history of non-compliance with health and safety laws and convictions or those in industries with high injury rates are more likely to be targeted.
To avoid the risk of costly charges and disruptive orders from Ministry inspectors that can be issued on the spot, employers with young workers should take some time to ensure that they are compliant with the Occupational Health and Safety Act and its regulations. Some of the more common areas of non-compliance that result in orders and fines from inspectors include a lack of proper guarding on machinery, personal protective equipment and fall arrest equipment and procedures.
Employers should also make sure their workers meet the minimum age requirements for their industry. These age requirements vary from 18 years of age for underground mining and window cleaning, 16 for mining plants and construction and logging, 15 for factory operations and repair shops and 14 for other industrial establishments. The Ontario Employment Standards Act, 2000 does not contain minimum age requirements. However, it does require employers to keep a record of an employee’s date of birth if the employee is under 18.
To read the Ministry’s press release, see http://www.news.ontario.ca/mol/en/2009/05/ontario-protecting-young-and-new-workers.html.
Landon Young – [email protected]