The Ontario Ministry of Labour announced in late August, 2012 that it would spend September and October focusing its inspections on supervisors working at construction projects. 

Tickets, as well as significant fines, have become commonplace for supervisors. In its media backgrounder accompanying the announcement, the Ministry noted that between April 1, 2011 and March 31, 2012, more than 95% of the supervisors who were convicted and fined for offences under the Occupational Health and Safety Act were in the construction industry.

In addition, the Ministry’s website contains Court Bulletins summarizing recent court decisions in which construction supervisors have been convicted and fined for health and safety violations.  Since mid-June 2012, two construction supervisors (in different cases) have been fined $10,000 after workers they were supervising fell off roofs and were seriously injured.  In the first case, the supervisor pleaded guilty to failing to ensure that workers wore fall protection gear.  In the second case, the supervisor pleaded guilty to failing to ensure that workers were adequately protected by a guardrail system. 

In July 2012, another construction supervisor was convicted and fined $30,000 for failing to follow proper engineering procedure and for failing to ensure that workers wore fall protection gear.  In this case, a worker was killed after he fell off a bridge and was crushed by a concrete panel that fell on top of him.

As a result of these incidents and others, the Ministry has stated that during its blitz, inspectors will target high-risk construction projects and those where there has been either a history of non-compliance, or where complaints have been received.  Among other things, the Ministry has stated that inspectors will be checking to ensure that:  projects are supervised by competent supervisors; supervisors are ensuring that workers wear appropriate protective gear; supervisors are conducting appropriate and timely inspections of the project; and that supervisors are informing workers – particularly new and young workers – of potential or actual dangers at the construction site. 

In light of the blitz, constructors or employers working on construction projects should ensure that they appoint competent supervisors where five or more workers are working at the same time.  They should also ensure that worker training and all safety policies and practices are documented and that the documentation is available for review should an inspector arrive on site.

The Ontario Ministry of Labour backgrounder can be reviewed here: http://www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/news/pdf/2012/2012-55b.pdf

The Court Bulletins referred to above can be found here:http://www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/news/courtbulletins.php