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          Fall-hazard inspection blitz
          By VINCE VERSACE, staff writer

          May 25, 2010

          Additional steps need to be taken, industry safety task force says.

          The results of a provincial fall-hazard inspection blitz prove that restoration site safety requires changes beyond warnings and inspections, says an industry-led safety task force.

          “Although the Ministry of Labour is working hard to improve safety in the field, the safety task force feels that there are additional steps that can be taken to ensure the highest level of safety is instilled throughout the industry,” said Keith Bowie of Bowie Contracting, member of the Safety Task Force under the Building and Concrete Restoration Association of Ontario.

          Labour ministry inspectors visited nearly 3,000 construction sites across Ontario during a fall-hazard inspection blitz from mid-January to mid-April, and at 63 per cent of them found fall-related hazards.

          There were 784 stop-work orders issued for fall-related hazards and more than 1,100 fall-related violations associated with those orders.

          Fifty-six per cent of the orders issued were for violations related to missing or improper use or maintenance of guardrails, non-suspended scaffolds and fall-protection systems.

          Approximately 94 per cent of the blitz’s total fall-related orders were accounted for in ICI construction, single-family housing and apartment and multiple housing. The top three areas of infractions were guardrails (853 orders), non-suspended scaffolds (629) and fall-protection systems (442).

          The blitz results propelled the labour ministry to call for a “shared responsibility” in improving construction site safety. It warned of a zero-tolerance approach with repeat infraction offenders, improving public and industry awareness about site safety and strengthened training levels.

          The safety task force was pleased with the ministry’s commitment to increase its number of inspectors.

          It also welcomed the province’s interest in increasing training and competency levels as well as the creation of a telephone hotline to report safety issues.

          “As long as these (inspection) officers are properly trained and consistent with the enforcement of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, it will go a long way to instilling the importance of safety no matter what the scope of work entails,” said the task force.

          In March, the task force formed a Suspended Access Equipment (SAE) working group under the Infrastructure Health and Safety Association.

          It jointly submitted with organized labour a Needs Analysis for SAE-Regulation Amendment, which, if adopted, would change or amend the OHSA to increase the level of safety for SAE.

          “The safety task force has not been sitting on the sidelines,” said Mark Lecce of CanMar Contracting, a task force member.

          “It is in the final stages of preparing a brief stating the safety issues that not only affect the highrise restoration industry but the restoration industry as a whole.”

          Task force members recently attended an employer workshop hosted by the province’s Workplace Safety System Review expert advisory panel.

          The task force was informed it can present its recommendations to improving safety concerns in the restoration industry when they are completed.

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