Canadian Electrical Industry News Week

Apr 17, 2017

SafetyIn November and December 2016, Ontario Ministry of Labour inspectors conducted an enforcement blitz involving electrical and related hazards at construction sites. According to just released results, inspectors conducted 1,108 field visits to 998 workplaces, and issued 2,801 orders, including 173 stop work orders. The number of orders averaged 2.8 per visit. A breakdown of the results shows that electrical hazards are just some of the risks electrical workers face on construction sites.

What inspectors were looking for

The inspectors focused on electrical hazards as well as other hazards around electrical work, such as falls as a result of the unsafe use of ladders, and ergonomics-related hazards involving specific tasks that could lead to musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs)

Among their priorities, inspectors checked that

• only qualified workers (electricians certified by the Ontario College of Trades) were permitted to connect, maintain or modify electrical equipment or installations

• qualified workers were not working on live electrical equipment unless permitted. In addition, inspectors checked that a procedure was in place to de-energize electrical systems at the source and use lockout procedures to prevent re-energizing while workers worked on or near electrical equipment, installations or systems

• employers had developed and implemented safe work procedures that workers followed when working on or near electrical equipment, installations and distribution systems

• trained signal persons were provided to assist vehicle and equipment operators who were working near energized overhead electrical conductors to prevent part of the vehicle or equipment (cranes, dump trucks), or their load, from encroaching on the minimum distance permitted under the Section 188 of the Regulations for Construction Projects

• visible signage was posted to warn workers and operators of potential overhead electrical hazards

• prior to excavating, electrical and other services in and near the area to be excavated were located and marked and, if the service posed a hazard during excavating, the service was shut off by the utility owner

• workers were using ladders in a safe manner

Hazards related to stop work orders

Stop work orders are issued when a situation could post an immediate hazard/danger to a worker. During the blitz, 173 stop work orders were issued under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. They were accompanied by 287 other orders requiring a specific activity to take place to remedy the issue involving the stop work orders.

Of the violations related to the stop work orders,

• 23% were related to fall protection involving missing or inadequate guardrails
• 17% were related to scaffolds and scaffold platforms
• 13% were related to access of stairs or temporary stairs five% (15 of the 287 accompanying orders) were related to equipment in general
• 5% were related to general “housekeeping”
• 3% were related to electrical hazards
• 3% were related to excavations and wall stability

The goals of the blitz were to raise awareness of safety hazards when working near live electrical power lines and electrical equipment, ensure workplace parties were complying with the law, and prevent injuries that could arise from unsafe work practices.

Read the blitz report: www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/hs/sawo/blitzes/blitz_report84.php
Image courtesy of artur84 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

 

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