May 15, 2009
For the second year in a row, the Ontario Ministry of Labour (MOL) is conducting a health and safety inspection blitz of workplaces where young workers (age 15-24) and newly assigned workers of any age are employed.

Landscaping job sites and golf courses are two target areas where inspectors will focus. Wayne De L’Orme, provincial coordinator of the ministry’s industrial health and safety program, explains that the blitz will take place during June.  Last year, inspectors visited job sites and work places during a two-week period, and hope to more than double the number of site visits in this year’s month-long blitz.

The inspections will focus on the main risk areas for young and newly assigned workers – training and supervision. Inspectors will be looking for evidence of job-specific training and whether a worker’s supervision is appropriate to the job-at-hand.

Inspectors will show up at the job site or work place unannounced, and ask young or new workers about the job they are doing, and to explain how they were trained to perform it safely. They may also ask about any equipment being used, and expect the worker to point out safety features and understand how they know it is working properly, as well as what to do if it is not. Inspectors may also ask supervisors the same questions.

De L’Orme says the MOL was pleased with the level of training and supervision it witnessed last year. It wrote very few orders, and hopes for the same outcome this year. He adds though, that over the year, industrial inspectors have become more proficient in writing tickets, so they will be quick to issue non-compliance orders should one be necessary.

There are two types of non-compliance orders: time-based orders, in which the employer has a certain amount of time to show compliance with MOL legislation, and stop orders, which are more difficult for the employer, as use of the non-compliant equipment or work process can’t continue until it has been proven to be in compliance with legislation.

De L’Orme cites the real-life example of a newly employed senior citizen being trained inadequately by a teenaged supervisor, and reminds employers that workers who have been on the job less than six months are also a focus of this health and safety blitz.