OHS Inspections Division has been committed in planning and implementing a Fall Protection Campaign. This awareness campaign was brought about as a result of two fatalities in this Province. Investigating OHS Officers determined that a lack of fall protection was a major contributor to both accidents. The campaign started with two news releases from the Division advising of increased enforcement plans and warning to use proper equipment when working at heights; removing snow from roofs, during initial construction, and during renovations projects, etc. Following the initial campaign, Officers have increased enforcement activity highlighted by an increased number of directives for training, wearing and proper use of fall protection equipment and stop work orders. As well, the Division has increased its meetings with repeat offenders and increased recommendations for prosecution.
OHS Inspections Division initiated an inspection blitz in the fast food industry resulting from concerns communicated and incidents reported. Initial inspections found that some employers had very little, if any documentation existed to demonstrate that worker instruction, orientation, and supervision had been satisfactorily performed. The larger chains were targeted initially followed by smaller chains and individual owned operations. Various criteria were addressed during inspections to determine legislative compliance. These included:
The OHS Division is continuing with its inspection, enforcement and monitoring activities in this industry, as it does with any employer within the province until compliance is achieved with OHS legislation.
The Occupational Health and Safety Division is continuing with its Electrical Arc Flash awareness initiative. Presentations and inspections have been carried out at many of the major employers in the Province. Resulting from these inspections, directives have been issued that identify hazardous areas and to ensure workers are protected with arc flash rated Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Planned inspections are continuing with mid sized employers, Government Departments as well, presentations to post secondary institutions that offer training in the electricity sector. Divisional staff has also been actively participating on the CSA Technical Committee which was tasked with developing the new CSA Z462 08 standard. This standard provides the “how to” for industry to develop and implement an electrical safety program that defines how workers shall be protected from electrocution and arc flash hazards.
There is a special inspection requirement this year for all Officers to carry out inspections in all sectors. Working with the sector specific Officer IIIs, all Officers will be conducting inspections in Construction, Fisheries, Forestry, Health Care, Mining and Retail-Manufacturing. The Officer IIIs have an inspection protocol in place that includes introductory inspections with each Officer. This will ensure increased inspections in all of these sectors.
The mining and exploration industry in Newfoundland and Labrador continues to grow in leaps and bounds. Presently there are 12 active mines operating and 3 more in the development stage. The Occupational Health and Safety Branch is continuing with its heath and safety initiatives in the mining industry. The Department along with Workplace Health Safety and Compensation Commission has developed a Mines Rescue Training standard for the Mining Sector. The Division will continue to monitor the emergency response plans and procedures to ensure that the mining properties are compliant.
During the consultations with our stakeholders on the proposed Occupational Health and Safety Regulations, the need for a Process Safety Management Code of Practice for the Petroleum sector, was identified. Given the anticipated increase of activity within this sector including potential petroleum development projects, the development of such a Code of practice would be a very timely and proactive measure. A working group, which includes representation from Petroleum Industry, Labour and Government, was established to develop the parameters around this Code of Practice. The process safety management code of practice is anticipated to be completed by Spring 2009.
The OHS Division in conjunction with the Environmental and Public Health Division of Service NL, Department of Education and the Regional Boards of Education have undertaken an enhanced inspection initiative to assess the IAQ in schools with particular emphasis on mould and asbestos. The Industrial Hygienists conducted training with the Environmental Health Officers (EHOs) across the province, instructing them in carrying out enhanced school inspections concentrating on IAQ, water infiltrations, mould identification and asbestos issues.
One of the biggest initiatives that this branch has been involved in 2008, was the continuation of the review process of the OHS regulations. Throughout the past year, we have thoroughly consulted with stakeholders on the regulations, whereby we have accepted and reviewed formal submissions from major stakeholders. The Division kept major stakeholders informed of the status of the review process and provided feedback to stakeholders. In addition, Officials of the Occupational Health and Safety Division met with the majority of stakeholder groups individually to discuss the proposed changes and address any concerns or questions. Presentations were conducted at numerous conferences and other venues to promote the proposed regulation and raise awareness.
Some of the groups to whom presentations were given, include:
In an effort to facilitate understanding of amendments or outstanding compliance issues, in relation to the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations, an accompanying Guidance Document is also being developed. This Guidance Document will be a living document which will address issues as they arise. The first version will in large part be a response to questions that arose during the Regulatory consultation process. In addition, regulatory issues well known to the Division will be addressed.
In an effort to improve safety in the forest industry, a group of individuals representing the pulp and paper industry, lumber producers, unions, Workplace Health & Safety Compensation Commission (WHSCC), Provincial Government departments, Newfoundland & Labrador Federation of Labour, and Newfoundland & Labrador Employer’s Council, have come together to form a Guidance Committee to set up a sector council.
The Occupational Health and Safety Division is involved in this committee as an Ex Officio to provide advice as well as receive information relating to this sector. Stakeholder consultations on this proposed safety council will be taking place at several locations over the coming months to determine whether the group’s proposal, including a possible industry levy to fund the organization, is acceptable and desired by the stakeholder group. Initial funding through WHSCC is anticipated to be approved. This sector council will be somewhat modeled after the Newfoundland & Labrador Construction Safety Association (NLCSA). It is anticipated to have a positive effect on safety in the industry.
The Hazardous Materials Information Review Commission is an independent agency accountable to parliament through the Minister of Health. They work with Stakeholders in industry, labour and governments to help safeguard both worker and trade secrets in Canada’s chemical industry. Tools used include sound scientific expertise, good communication and education to the rights of very one involved. This Commission is governed by the Council of Governors consists of members representing workers, suppliers, employers, and federal provincial and territorial government. An industrial hygienist represents the OHS Branch on this Council.