Inspectors from the Ontario Ministry of Labour will be conducting a blitz over the next few months in an effort to prevent musculoskeletal injuries (MSIs) and respiratory diseases. MSIs are the top workplace injury in the province, accounting for one-third of all lost-time claims accepted by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board. In 2017, they resulted in 19,000 claims, 462,000 days lost from work and $72 million in costs.
MSIs result from repetitive work, heavy lifting and carrying, and awkward postures that affect the bones, joints, ligaments and other soft tissues. Tasks such as lifting heavy bags of cement, repositioning patients in a hospital or long-term care home, or handling objects while on a ladder can put workers at risk.
Some common MSIs include back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and tendonitis.
“My top priority is workplace safety,” said Minister of Labour Monte McNaughton. “We all need to be careful about the way we’re working. Lifting, carrying and even sitting the wrong way can lead to injuries.”
The blitz will focus on workplaces in the construction, health care, industrial and mining sectors, and runs from Oct. 1 to Dec, 27.
Inspectors will also be focusing on breathing hazards, which include gases, dusts, vapours and fumes that can lead to lung cancer and other illnesses.
“Everyone has a role and responsibility in preventing musculoskeletal injuries and respiratory hazards,” said McNaughton. “This enforcement initiative will help prevent needless suffering for thousands of workers and ensure they are safe on the job.”
According to the Ministry of Labour, inspectors will check that workers are provided with information, instruction and supervision; workers are acquainted with respiratory hazards in the workplace; work areas have proper ventilation; workers who are required to use personal protective equipment (PPE) are trained on its correct use and the PPE is accessible when required; PPE is properly maintained and is in good condition; and proper controls and work practices are in place to prevent respiratory hazards and worker exposure to hazardous agents are within legal limits.