December 15, 2014
People are hard-wired to get the job done. To do that, some will go so far as to take shortcuts or jury-rig repairs to hazardous machinery.

Members of Landscape Ontario will understand how human nature intersects with the risks inherent in industrial machine shops, and the imperative of implementing machine guarding controls to keep people safe from harm.

The Ministry of Labour understands these points of intersection, too. That’s why the ministry scheduled a Health and Safety Blitz.

The ministry has laid out some ideas to create a safe workplace:

Inspect your own workplace: Being proactive is in your best interests. Conduct proper hazard identification and risk assessment. Prioritize your hazards, and prepare and execute a plan.

Give yourself time: Safeguarding a machine means setting aside the duct tape and giving yourself time to do it properly. You may need to design and fabricate an effective guard, conduct a pre-start health and safety review, or seek approval from management for additional resources.

Document, document, document: Supervisors should document any real or suspected guarding issues; a critical first step before seeking management’s support to implement the necessary controls. Complying with your legal responsibilities as outlined under Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) is critical, and involves not only acting in a healthy and safe manner, but formalizing your program in writing.

Be well informed: Know your options. Stay on top of guarding developments and solutions. Take courses. Visit machine guarding exhibitors at trade shows and speak with manufacturers and experts. In the realm of safeguarding, you’re rarely limited to just one solution. Choose the one most appropriate for your workplace.

Observe your workers: Supervisors need to spend time on the floor, observing what workers are actually doing. Understand the requirements of the job better than your workers do. What hazards are they exposed to? Are workers following the rules and using the right personal protective equipment, or are they bypassing safeguards—and if so, why?

Open your toolbox: Sometimes safety messages are drowned out in the din of other workplace imperatives. Don’t let that happen. You can ignite an ongoing focus on injury prevention through many different means: toolbox talks, joint walk-arounds, pay cheque messages, signs, contests and one-on-one coaching.

Make a call to action: Boost interest in machine guarding by alerting everyone at your workplace. Ask for ideas on how to improve safety. Check that all issues and concerns are on the table. Emphasize the underlying rationale for diligence: we don’t want anyone to get hurt.

For more information look for simple, easy-to-use resources provided at no cost by Workplace Safety and Prevention Services at wsps.ca.