TORONTO — Ministry of Labour inspectors will blitz workplaces in an effort to prevent musculoskeletal injuries in Ontario workplaces, Minister of Labour Monte McNaughton announced Oct. 1.
The blitz will focus on workplaces in the construction, health care, industrial and mining sectors. It coincides with Global Ergonomics Month in October.
Musculoskeletal injuries result from repetitive work, heavy lifting and carrying, and awkward postures that affect people’s bones, joints, ligaments and other soft tissues, stated a release. Back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome and tendonitis are three prominent examples of musculoskeletal injuries.
In 2017, musculoskeletal injuries accounted for about one-third of all lost-time injury claims accepted by Ontario’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Board. They resulted in 19,000 claims, 462,000 days lost from work and $72 million in costs.
Inspections will also be focused on breathing hazards, which include gases, dusts, vapours and fumes that can lead to lung cancer and other illnesses.
For musculoskeletal hazards, depending on the sector, inspectors may check that materials and people are being lifted and moved safely; items are stored so they can be safely accessed; precautions are being taken if workers are exposed to prolonged vibration, specifically to the hands and arms; and work is performed safely on ladders, the release noted.
For respiratory hazards, 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.
The workplace inspections will run from Oct. 1 to Dec. 27. The blitz is part of the government’s Safe At Work Ontario strategy, the release said.