The Ten Most Common Health and Safety Hazards in Ontario

1. Ladders. Used throughout plants and warehouses, 8 percent of all occupational fatalities are the result of falls from ladders. Ladders slip, tip, slide and break. While human error causes most ladder falls, steps can be taken to minimize injuries. Consider the following:
• Is the ladder resting on an uneven surface?
• Is the work area crowded?
• What obstructions are in the path of the climb?
• Check the amount of weight the ladder can support.
• Know the difference between a step ladder, a single ladder and an extension ladder and the appropriate applications.
2. Scaffolding. Scaffolding violations and accidents are commonly linked to planks giving way, employee falls and tumbling objects. An estimated 65 percent of the construction industry works on scaffolds. Protecting workers from scaffold-related accidents would prevent 4,500 injuries and 50 deaths every year, at a savings for American employers of $90 million workdays. Scaffolds must be:
• Safely secured and supported
• Level
• Provided with safe access, such as with ladders and guard rails
• Adequately decked
3. Fall protection. Fall protection violations occur whenever a person is four feet above the ground without proper safety measures. Fall protection must be provided at four feet in general industry, five feet in maritime and six feet in construction. Steps for successful fall protection include:
• Taking fall prevention and protection training courses
• Identifying situations when employees should not work off the ground
• Reviewing and testing harnesses, connectors, ropes, anchors, lanyards and pulleys
4. Powered industrial trucks. Many employees are injured by driving powered industrial trucks off loading docks or into ditches, or by being struck by one. Most employee injuries and property damage can be linked to unsafe operating procedures, lack of safety-rule enforcement and inadequate training. Operators of powered industrial trucks should:
• Successfully complete training and evaluation specified in the OSHA standard
• Master safe load manipulation, stacking and un-stacking
• Practice operating powered industrial trucks on ramps and sloped surfaces
• Not operate in closed environments where poor ventilation could cause carbon monoxide or diesel exhaust buildup.
5. Respiratory protection. Respirators help protect welders and others against unhealthy breathing environments caused by insufficient oxygen, dust, vapors, gasses, fiberglass and more. These hazards may cause cancer, lung impairment and other diseases, or death. An estimated 5 million workers are required to wear respirators in 1.3 million workplaces throughout the U.S. Respiratory safety includes:
• Ensuring the respirator fits properly
• Ensuring hazardous air is sealed out
• Properly cleaning, storing and maintaining respirators
6. Electrical wiring methods. Electrical hazards are present for those who work both directly and indirectly with or near dangerous electrical lines. For electrical safety, it is important to:
• Understand the National Electrical Code wiring method requirements
• Learn the specific requirements for installing a variety of cables, raceways, outlet boxes, junction boxes and other enclosures
7. Control of hazardous energy. Lockout/tagout (LO/TO) refers to specific practices and procedures to safeguard employees from the unexpected energization or startup of machinery and equipment, or the release of hazardous energy during service or maintenance activities. Approximately 3 million workers service equipment and face the greatest risk of injury if LO/TO is not properly implemented. Steps for LO/TO safety include:
• Knowing what types of machines and equipment in your facility are impacted by LO/TO
• Clarifying the roles of the “affected” and “authorized” employees
• Properly applying all LO/TO devices and labels, including valve tags, padlocks, hasps, steering wheel covers, cable lockouts and lock boxes
8. Machine guarding. Any machine part, function or process that may cause injury must be labeled and safeguarded. Moving machine parts may cause severe workplace injuries, such as crushed fingers, amputations, burns or blindness. Use the following safeguards:
• Guards should not be fastened to moving parts or positioned near moving parts in a manner that creates a pinch point.
• Guarding systems must prevent access to the hazardous area by reaching over, under, around or through the guarding system.
9. Electrical systems design. Working with electricity is dangerous, particularly areas that are subject to arc flash. Engineers and electricians work with electricity directly, including on overhead lines, cable harnesses and circuit assemblies. Follow these safety steps:
• Stay away from equipment that presents an arc flash danger. Arc flashes are a rapid, explosive discharge of electrical energy resulting from a short circuit fault. An arc flash can occur in as little as 1/1000 of a second. They are unexpected, violent and deadly.
• Arc flash labels also inform workers about wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) should they need to work on or near equipment that presents an arc flash hazard.
• Identify the correct extinguisher to use on flammable liquid fires and on energized electrical equipment fires.
10. Chemicals. Dangerous chemicals are used throughout the industrial landscape. Chemical manufacturers and importers are required to evaluate the hazards of the chemicals they produce or import, and prepare labels and safety data sheets to convey the hazard information to their downstream customers. To ensure chemical safety in the workplace employers should:
• Develop and maintain a written hazard communication program for the workplace and include lists of hazardous chemicals present.
• Use either NFPA diamond or color bar labels to provide Right-to-Know information. NFPA diamond labels are primarily used to inform emergency responders about hazards, but they can do double duty.