Ministry of Labour inspectors are targeting hazards involving material handling during an enforcement blitz across the province this fall. They will check that employers, supervisors and workers are complying with requirements under the Occupational Health and Safety Act and its regulations.
Material handling includes activities such as loading, unloading, storage and movement of goods and supplies, carried out either by hand or with the aid of mechanical devices or mobile equipment, such as forklifts, cranes and other lifting devices. Workers can be seriously injured or even die as a result of hazards involving this work.
The risk of developing musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) from performing manual handling is common in workplaces that move heavy materials or handle materials on a frequent basis. These MSDs can include low back injuries and/or shoulder injuries. In 2013, MSDs comprised nearly 40 per cent of all injuries involving lost time at work, according to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board . Workers being struck by objects and equipment, as well as other contact, accounted, on average, for more than 27 per cent of claims received by the WSIB in 2014 for lost-time injuries.
Material handling hazards include:
- poorly maintained lifting devices or loads that exceed the capacity on lifting devices
- damaged racking and storage units
- lifting, lowering, pushing, pulling or carrying loads that are too heavy or done too repetitively
- material handling while on a ladder, mobile ladder or step stool
- being caught between materials or pinch points on equipment
- falling materials that are improperly stored
- incorrectly cutting ties or other securing devices
- being hit, struck or crushed by moving equipment, materials, tools, vehicles, lifting devices and/or their unsecured loads that fall or collapse
- storage and movement of items on mezzanines that have no guardrails
Ministry inspectors will visit a range of workplaces in the industrial sector, with focus on: automotive; ceramics, glass and stone; chemical, rubber and plastics; retail; wholesalers including building supply centres; and wood and metal fabrication.
They will focus on workplaces with a high incidence of lost-time injuries, workplaces not previously visited by the ministry and those where complaints have been received.