Ontario health and safety watchdogs target concrete construction work

Latest focus in safety blitz inspections will be placement of concrete at construction sites

The Ontario government is continuing its efforts to reduce workplace injuries by focusing on hazards related to the design, erection and dismantling of forms used in the placement of concrete on building sites.

Throughout the month of August, occupational health and safety inspectors from the Ontario Ministry of Labour will concentrate on a wide range of hazards related to formwork. These include conditions that could cause workers to fall, be electrocuted, sustain injuries in trenches and excavations, or be struck or crushed by vehicles and equipment. Inspectors will also monitor ergonomic issues.

There will be a zero-tolerance approach to contraventions of health and safety regulations related to fall-protection, trench shoring and work near high-voltage power lines.

The focus on concrete work at construction sites is part of the province’s Safe At Work Ontario blitz strategy announced in June 2008. The goal of the program is to increase productivity in Ontario’s economy and reduce strain on its health care system by reducing workplace injuries.

In 2008, construction formwork and demolition resulted in a lost-time injury rate more than 2.5 times the overall average for construction work, according to the Ontario Workplace Safety and Insurance Board. A previous compliance program by the Ministry of Labour from 2004-2008 reduced the workplace annual injury rate by 20 per cent, saving about $5 billion in direct and indirect cost to the economy.

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