May 15, 2014
The Ministry of Labour has begun its provincial safety blitz campaign.

This month, the ministry launched campaigns for the construction sector for excavation hazards and new and young workers in industrial sector.

In July, the ministry will begin a blitz campaign for fall protection hazards in the construction sector.

Inspectors began to focus on construction sites with excavation and trenching activities during a one-month safety blitz, that began on May 1. The Ministry of Labour inspectors are checking that employers are complying with requirements under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. This includes checking that employers are assessing and addressing hazards at sites with excavations and trenches.

The ministry says that hazards involving excavations can result in serious, and even fatal, injuries to workers at construction sites. “If a worker is trapped in an excavation collapse, the soil’s weight may be so heavy a successful rescue may be impossible. A trapped worker may die before the rescue can begin.”

Between 2008 and 2012, a total of 12 workers died and 33 workers were critically injured in excavation and trenching incidents at construction projects in Ontario, according to Ministry of Labour statistics.

The ministry reports that workers involved in excavation activities are at risk of injury due to hazards such as falls into a trench or excavation, tripping over equipment, sudden collapse of unsupported excavation walls, excavated materials or other objects falling on workers, exposure to underground services or overhead electrical cables, unstable nearby structures such as other buildings, mishandled or poorly placed materials, hazardous atmospheres (noxious gases/lack of oxygen), toxic or flammable and explosive gases and incidents involving vehicles and other mobile equipment.

Ministry inspectors will visit sites across Ontario with excavation and trenching activities. In particular, they will visit employers with a high incidence of lost-time injuries involving excavation workers, not previously visited by the ministry, where complaints have been received and where there is a history of non-compliance.

The ministry’s enforcement blitz is operated through the Occupational Health and Safety Program. Findings are generally reported soon after completion. The ministry tracks each sector to determine if there are long-lasting improvements in compliance and fewer injuries and fewer breaches of employment standards.

For more information on the ministry blitzes, go to