April 15, 2010
By Sally Harvey CLT, CLP
Education and Labour Development Department

Sally HarveyAs we embark on a great season, we must not forget our obligation to operate safe businesses. You should also know that the landscape industry has been identified by the Ministry of Labour (MOL) to be in need of improvement when it comes to safety. We have been notifying you of MOL bulletins and blitzes in the enewsletter over the last few months. Stay tuned for more of those. To be put on the enews distribution list, please contact Angela Lindsay at alindsay@landscapeontario.com.

In 2009, the landscape industry improved its record over 2008, in regards to frequency and the number of days lost due to injury. This is good news! However, we still have injuries that often could have been prevented with the appropriate policy and training in place. The most common incidences and injuries for 2009, as noted on the Safety Group Report Card, are as follows:

Injuries: sprains, strains, unspecified tears; cuts, lacerations; animal or insect, venomous bites; bruises, contusions and fractures.

Causes: fall to the floor, walkway, or other surface; bee, wasp, hornet sting; bending, climbing, crawling, reaching, twisting, over-exertion in pulling or pushing objects.

Body parts injured: lower back, unspecified location multiple body parts, ankle, fingers (except thumb), lumbar region.

Occupational diseases: nervous system (including sense organs).

We are a target because we do tend to have more lost time injuries than other industries, and then upon further investigation, the MOL discovers that many of us are without the obligatory safety program. (See March 2010 Horticulture Review article for the foundation of a solid safety program.)

New safety regulation

Bill 168, or the Workplace Violence and Harassment Act, is expected to come in to effect on June 15, 2010. Under Bill 168, employers must develop workplace violence and harassment policies and training programs to implement such policies, and engage in evaluation to measure the risk of workplace violence.

Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) new amendments specify:
  • Employers with more than five full-time workers are required to prepare policies on workplace violence and harassment and develop and maintain programs to implement them.
  • Employers must assess the risks of workplace violence based on the nature of the workplace and type or conditions of work, and develop measures and procedures to control them. The employer’s risk assessment is required to take into account circumstances that would be common to similar workplaces and specific to the workplace. Once complete, the employer must advise the joint health and safety committee, health and safety representative, or workers directly (if there is no committee, or representative) of the results of the assessment and provide a copy of the assessment in writing. Workplaces must be reassessed for risks of workplace violence to ensure that the policy continues to protect workers from workplace violence.
  • A right for workers to refuse work if they believe they are at risk of physical injury due to possible workplace violence.
  • Employers aware of the potential for domestic violence in a workplace are to take reasonable precautions to protect the workers considered at risk of physical injury.
  • Employers and supervisors are to alert certain workers of the risk of workplace violence from persons with a history of violent behaviour. Employers and supervisors must provide workers who may encounter such persons at work with as much information, including personal information, as needed to protect the workers from physical injury.
  • The workplace’s Joint Health and Safety Committee and others must be notified if a worker is disabled, or needs medical attention due to workplace violence.

Call before you dig

Finally, please remember to call before you dig! Landscapers and fence installers continue to have a bad record of forgetting this step when excavating, planting trees and installing landscape structures. Ontario One Call is 1-800-400-2255. Go to: www.on1call.com/ExInfo.html#Register to register as an excavator. You will find it much faster to get locates completed.

Apprenticeship tax credit

I have had several calls from members, who employ and train apprentices, about how to access the employer training tax credit. Please see the following information from the website below:
Corporations may claim the tax credit on Schedule 114 of their CT-23, or CT-8 tax return. Eligible employers operating unincorporated businesses may claim the credit on Form ON479, Ontario Credits, included in the personal income tax return. Members of partnerships claim their share of the credit on their own corporate or personal tax returns.

Visit the Apprenticeship Training Tax Credit page, or contact the Ministry of Revenue, Tax Advisory services Branch at (905) 837-3814.
Contact Sally Harvey should you have any questions at sharvey@landscapontario.com.