Blog Post #254 – (MOL) Ministry of Labour Sets Sights on Machine Guards

Excerpt from the OH&S Canada magazine 

Ministry of Labour (MOL) inspectors will step up enforcement of safety violations involving machinery under an enforcement initiative that will focus on machine guards and lockout.

Fatalities due to guarding and lockout violations totaled eight in 1999, including three young workers, double the four recorded in 1997. Critical injuries, including a number of amputations, rose to 95 from 76 during the same period.

“Encouraging the proper use of guards and lockouts will sharply reduce the rising number of fatalities and critical injuries among workers who are involved with machinery and make workplaces safer and more productive,” labour minister Chris Stockwell said when he made the announcement April 10.

The drive will build on the success of other “zero tolerance” initiatives over the past two years that targeted safety violations involving fall protection and lift trucks. In both initiatives, the ministry stepped up enforcement while safe workplace partners, such as the Industrial Accident Prevention Association (IAPA), provided training and assistance to help workplaces comply with ministry orders.

Where violations are found during the initiatives, the ministry officials may do any or all of the following:

• Issue orders to comply and, if necessary, issue stop-work orders;
• Issue summonses with fines of up to $500 to supervisors and/or workers who disable the protections or by-pass them; and,
• Begin prosecutions with fines of up to $500,000 for more serious offences such as condoning the above offences or ignoring orders to comply with guard and lockout laws.

“Machine guarding and lockout hazards continue to be a source of serious workplace injuries,” Maureen Shaw, president and chief executive officer of the IAPA said. “It is critical that employers and employees are aware of these hazards and take every possible measure to eliminate them and ensure workers’ safety.”

My opinion

The Ontario workplace must encourage the use of machine guarding as well as a reliable lockout and tagout policy and procedure. The goal is to have the ‘competent person’ involved with the setup and ensure that all workers are protected. The competent worker CAN be another worker BUT should be someone from supervision and/or the employer.

HRS Group prides itself with an in-depth training course for lockout and tagout as well as a module that answers the questions for Machine Guarding. Actually, it is a part of the basic Certification – Level 1 process and has been added as a Basic Certification – Level 2 course as one of the mandatory modules required for Level 2.

The workplace is safer that it was when this report first came out but we still have a long way to go.

In closing,

I should share with the readers about a client of mine that recently purchased a large forklift, one with no guard covers around the engine. The manufacturer was going to ‘offer’ these as an option instead of complying with governmental regulations that make the covers mandatory. I was able to convince the manufacturer that it was in their best interest to send someone up to install the engine guards before the MOL found out about their intention to build product that is not living up to the ACT or the appropriate regulations. They came up the next day!

Remember — In Ontario, “ALL Accidents are Preventable”

HRS Group Inc. has a great team that can help you with all your health and safety needs including ‘Machine Guarding’. Contact Deborah toll free at 1-877-907-7744 or locally at 705-749-1259.

We can also be reached at 

‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.

Daniel L. Beal
CHSEP – Foundation Level
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.

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