Excerpt from the OH&S Canada magazine (January 2016)
The government of Ontario has passed several new amendments to its current OH&S legislation to improve the safety and rights of workers in several different sectors, including construction and firefighting.
On December 09, 2015, the province approved new training and safety requirements for construction workers who operate rotary foundation drill rigs, according to a statement from the Ontario Ministry of Labour (MOL). Amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) will insist mandatory training and certification, as well as standard technical and operational safety measures and procedures, for the use of these drill rigs, which bore holes in soils for the installations of foundations or earth-retention structures.
“The number of fatalities in our construction industry is still far too high,” Ontario chief prevention officer George Gritziotis says in a statement. “I am pleased that these new changes enhance training for drill-rig operators.”
The province saw 21 fatalities in the construction industry in 2014 and about 200 critical industries, according to background information from the MOL. The new laws which will take effect on July 01, 2016, will make Ontario the only province with mandatory training requirements for drill-rig operators in OH&S legislation, the ministry notes.
The day after these amendments went through, the government also passed amendments to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, the Fire Prevention and Protection Act and the Public Sector Labour Relations Transition Act to strengthen the rights of injured workers. A MOL statement dated December 10 reports that the new Employment and Labour Statute Law Amendment Act will accomplish the following:
- Calculate survivors’ benefits based on the deceased worker’s average earnings at that time of the latter’s diagnosis, not on the current legal minimum;
- Make it a legal offence for employers to prevent workers from reporting work-related illness or injury to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB);
- Raise the maximum corporate penalty for knowingly providing a misleading statement to the WSIB, or for deliberately failing to inform the WSIB of material changes in circumstances regarding and employer’s obligation within 10 days, from $100,000 to $500,000;
- Make it mandatory for the WSIB to appoint an ombudsman for injured workers and employers; and
- Permit the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB) to hear labour-relations disputes in the firefighting sector.
I remember when these changes came about. The legislation to protect workers became more of a priority since 2010 with the inclusion of the Violence and Harassment changes to the OHSA.
It seems that positive change to occupational health and safety have come to a halt over the past few years. Covid-19 hasn’t helped the situation either.
There is still so much to do. Ask any person that discusses how often a roofer is wearing a harness AND is tied off and the number will be less that 25%.
Maybe we need more inspectors!
‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.
Daniel L. Beal
CHSEP – Advanced Level
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.