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Ministry to launch scaffolding Blitz

January 06 2010

The Minister of Labour, Peter Fonseca, has responded to the tragic events of December 24, 2009 when 4 workers fell to their deaths from a suspended scaffold by ordering a blitz of suspended scaffolds in Ontario. The Minister stated, "We want to ensure that Ontarians are safe at their workplace and these actions we're taking serve as a reminder that safety practices must be followed when working above the ground. I have asked for a report back in 90 days, at which time decisions will be made on what further steps will be taken."

The Ministry website press release states, Ontario Ministry of Labour inspectors will check for hazards involving suspended platforms at construction sites during an enforcement blitz starting in mid-January and is reminding industry parties to protect workers from hazards that cause workers to fall. The ministry has issued a hazard alert on the fundamental safety procedures for suspended platforms. Inspectors will also begin a heightened enforcement campaign targeting fall hazards in the construction sector. As part of regular inspections, they will look for compliance with fall protection requirements, including appropriate fall-related equipment and adequate worker training. Ministry inspectors will have zero tolerance for non-compliance. The review will be completed within 90 days. This initiative is part of the province's Safe At Work Ontario strategy. The strategy takes a broad approach to improve workplace health and safety practices through education, training, and enforcement of provincial legislation and regulations.

This action obviously is in response to the December 24th tragedy where 4 workers were killed and another critically injured. While the action is applauded, we should ask why it took a tragic event of this nature to cause this reaction? The MOL had been to this site on several occasions and had written stop work orders and numerous other orders for compliance. Perhaps the industry and the province needs to look at a more proactive system of orders and response to those orders to ensure this doesn’t happen again.