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Ont. labour ministry inspecting farm businesses

Ont. labour ministry inspecting farm businesses

The ministry is checking for occupational health and safety compliance

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

Ontario farm business may be receiving visits from inspectors with the ministry of labour.

The Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills is embarking on its health and safety campaigns for 2023-24, which include the farming and manufacturing sectors.

The campaigns occur in two phases.

The first is an education and outreach phase where the ministry works with health and safety associations to equip workplaces with tools to comply with occupational health and safety.

The second phase is enforcement where inspectors visit businesses to check for compliance.

For this campaign, inspectors will be looking at material handling in agribusinesses and in the manufacturing sector.

“Material handling hazards continue to be a leading cause of critical injuries and fatalities in these workplaces,” Jen Rushby, a spokeswoman with the ministry, told in an email. “Injuries associated with material handling can include workers being struck by objects, caught between objects and/or crushed by mechanical compression.”

The inspections are done to ensure compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OSHA).

Penalties associated with OSHA violations can reach $500,000 and/or jail time for individuals, fines of up to $1.5 million for corporations, and fines of up to $1.5 million and jail time for directors.

Businesses won’t know when an inspector may arrive on site. But they are chosen using a risk-based process that considers injury, illness and fatality data; health and safety research and feedback from partners and inspectors.

Once on site, inspectors will look for multiple items, Rushby said.

“Inspectors look for things like compliance with OSHA and its regulations to ensure businesses are keeping their workers safe, identification of workplace specific hazards and risks, and workplace priorities, including workplace violence and harassment,” she said.

Should the inspectors identify OSHA violations, they have authority to:

  • Issue orders to bring a workplace into OSHA compliance,
  • Conduct future inspections of workplaces to ensure compliance, and
  • Initiate prosecution in respect of offenses under the OSHA and/or its regulations.

When the safety campaign is over, the ministry of labour will make its findings available.

Those results are expected to be available to the public by March 31, 2024.

“Results include information on the number of field visits completed, number of workplaces visited, number of orders issues and more frequent contraventions observed,” Rushby said.

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