In May 2013 the Ministry visited 719 construction projects in Ontario, with the aim of checking for hazards that could lead to slips, trips and falls, collapse of excavation walls, objects falling onto workers, contact with overhead electrical cables or underground utilities, or workers being struck by equipment or vehicles. They issued 1,781 orders, 151 of them being stop work orders.
The most frequent order issued involved improper access to or egress from the work area, as well as numerous orders written under Sections 222 to 242 of the Construction Regulations, which deal with Excavations Safety. In the report analysis the results were interpreted to mean that “workplace parties still lack safety engagement and an understanding of the OHSA.”
This conclusion will mean that construction sites can expect to be visited and inspected whenever they carry out any kind of excavation. Knowing that, it would be a good idea to make sure that your excavation site procedures included the following topics:
- Make sure that your crews ensure that excavation and trenching support systems are in place.
- Ensure that your supervisors determine the site’s soil type to ascertain the strength and stability of the excavation walls.Ensure that trench and excavation walls are being stripped of any loose rock or other material that could slide, roll or fall on a worker.
- Check that on-site staff identify, locate and mark utilities to prevent worker contact with gas lines, electrical conductors and other services during excavations.
- Be sure crews construct a barrier at least 1.1 metres (42 inches) in height, when required, at the top of an excavation if it does not meet regulatory slope requirements and is more than 2.4 metres (eight feet) deep. Be sure that a clear work space of at least 450 millimetres (18 inches) is maintained between the excavation’s wall and any work platform.