March 9, 2012
Ontario needs safety champions: labour minister
Safety champions are needed to change the mentality on construction sites, says the province’s Minister of Labour.
Minister of Labour Linda Jeffrey said it cannot just be government enforcement blitzes promoting safety, the changes have to happen on site.
“We need people to be thinking about this ahead of time, going in, understanding the risks and coming home safely at the end of the day,” she said at a conference announcing a March safety blitz on the five most hazardous construction trades.
The trades targeted are highrise formwork, low-rise formwork and masonry, siding and built-up roofing work. The inspectors will continue their “zero tolerance” approach to breach of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
“Safety is imperative; know the risks and how to avoid them. Employers, make sure your workers are properly equipped and properly trained. And workers, watch out for yourselves and watch out for your colleagues,” said Jeffrey at Amacon Construction Ltd. site, Parkside Village Condos, in Mississauga, Ont.
Workers in these trades are exposed to: unsafe use of equipment such as ladders, platforms and scaffolds; slips, trips and falls; and inadequate education, training and supervision of workers.
The lost-time injury rate of these five trades ranges from almost double to four times higher than injury rates for the construction industry in general.
Ontario’s first Chief Prevention Officer, George Gritziotis, said prevention is imperative — he wants to anticipate the future to better target his strategy.
“We don’t want to be in a position that we’re reacting to yesterday, we want to be able to anticipate what’s going to happen,” he said, adding that it’s going to take working closely with industry and government.
“(It’s about) being better to understand what the future is going to look like and how you can better align prevention activities.”
Gritziotis said health and safety has to be talked about and innovated upon at every level.
“I want our province to have the safest workplaces in the world. I want to make sure that we have everybody involved and all stakeholders involved and that’s how we’re going to build capacity and this environment.”
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