Feeling Okay? Learn More About Occupational Diseases

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The Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) defines occupational illness as a condition that results from exposure in a workplace to a physical, chemical, or biological agent to the extent that the normal physiological mechanisms are affected. Not to be confused with occupational injuries, which are the result of a trauma, an occupational disease is a chronic ailment that develops over time. In 2011, occupational diseases contributed to 73% of all allowed Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) fatality claims.

Construction site workers are often at increased risk for infectious disease because of exposure to bacteria and viruses from unsanitary jobsite conditions. In order to help avoid things like Salmonella, E. coli, and Hepatitis A, the Occupational Health and Safety Act mandates that workers must have access to toilets and clean-up facilities. During warmer months especially, Lyme disease is an occupational concern for outdoor workers, namely construction and utility workers, utility arborists, and powerline technicians. Occupational cancer is cancer that is caused wholly or partly by exposure to a carcinogen at work, and the most common types are: lung cancer, bladder cancer and mesothelioma.

Familiarize yourself with the materials being used in your facility and how to work safety with and around them. Also, be alert to symptoms or changes in your health, and keep a list of all the jobs and industries in which you have worked.

Fall Protection/Hazards Blitz Coming to Construction Companies

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Nearly 20% of Canada’s time-loss injuries are due to slips, trips, and falls (based on statistics from the Association of Workers’ Compensation Boards of Canada, 2011). The majority of falls occur on the same level (commonly called slips and trips), and are often caused by slippery surfaces, uneven ground, unsecured mats, poorly lit or cluttered areas, and unsuitable footwear. The remaining third are falls from an elevated area like a ladder, roof, or stairs.

During July and August, the Ontario Ministry of Labour will focus on Fall Protection & Hazards in the construction industry. The Ministry hopes to protect workers under both the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and the Employment Standards Act (ESA), by enhancing employers’ awareness of their responsibilities. In the event that you receive a blitz, you will want to have proper fall protection equipment and procedures in place. Seton has everything you need, from lanyards and harnesses to custom signage to floor markers and barricades. The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health & Safety (CCOHS) and Ministry of Labour have ample resources on how to reduce risk and stay in compliance. 

WSIB Rules Change Jan. 1 2013

WSIB Rules Change Jan. 1 2013

As of January 1, 2013, nearly everyone working in the Ontario construction industry must have Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) coverage or risk not being able to work.

The requirement for WSIB coverage for workers is not new. Construction employers currently must have WSIB coverage for all of their workers regardless of what trade or role they perform.

“What is new,” explains Keith Subryan, WSIB Director of the Employer Service Centre, “is the law has changed to include business owners as well.

“This means that in the construction sector most independent operators, sole proprietors, partners in a partnership and executive officers without workers will also need to have WSIB coverage. Executive officers and partners whose businesses are already registered with the WSIB also must begin to report their own earnings and pay premiums,” Subryan says.

There are exemptions for those who work exclusively in home renovation and for one designated executive officer or partner of a company who doesn’t perform construction work. Visit this website www.beregisteredbeready.ca to find out the details about these exemptions.

As well, on this site, you’ll see this question “What do you mean ‘construction’?’ Be sure you click on “construction” for a detailed list of what business activities are required to have coverage.

Registering is a simple online process that takes about 15 minutes.

The cost of coverage will vary from company to company. It depends on two things: the business activity and the insurable earnings of the individual.

The calculation is based on the premium rate per $100 for the business activity multiplied by earnings.

For example: Someone doing ‘mechanical and sheet metal work’ is in rate group 707, which has a premium rate of $4.16 for 2013. If their insurable earnings are $45,000, their total premiums for 2013 will be $1,872.

Here’s the way that is calculated: $45,000 insurable earnings x $4.16 / $100 = $ 1,872.

The WSIB wants to make sure that everyone understands his or her obligations under the law. Failure to comply with the new legislation is an offence. However, for the first year the WSIB won’t be prosecuting offences related to registration and clearance obligations under Bill 119.

In 2013, the focus on education and awareness. If the WSIB learns that someone isn’t complying, this year every effort will be made to ensure that those who aren’t registered understand their responsibility to register and have coverage.

The terms “clearance” and “coverage” are not synonymous and shouldn’t be used interchangeably.

A clearance is proof that a contractor is registered and in good standing with the WSIB. When a clearance is in place, the general contractor is not liable for any premiums or other amounts owed to the WSIB by the contractors or subcontractors they hire.

Before mandatory coverage came into effect, the onus to get a clearance from a contractor or subcontractor was on the general contractor. It was recommended but not mandatory.

Now that’s changed. WSIB clearances are mandatory starting January 2013. General contractors who hire contractors or subcontractors must require a WSIB clearance from them before any construction work can begin.

No coverage = no clearance = no work. It’s that simple. Now it’s the law.

Both the general contractor and the contractor or subcontractor have obligations for clearances.

  • General Contractors must get a clearance before contractors or subcontractors can begin any construction work.
  • Contractors must have WSIB coverage and report and pay their premiums on time so they are eligible for a clearance.

Change is never easy, but the WSIB has been working hard to make this transition easier for you. Through eServices on the WSIB website, you can get or check clearances, register, report and pay premiums 24/7, even on your cellphone.

Finally, it’s important to stress what you’re getting for your workplace insurance coverage in the construction industry. If people are injured at work, the WSIB offers a broad range of benefits including:

  • Wage loss benefits start the day after the injury
  • Benefits include Loss of Retirement Income paid to injured workers from age 65
  • All necessary and appropriate health care costs are covered
  • Work reintegration and retraining services are available if needed
  • Special allowances are paid to severely impaired workers including an Independent Living Allowance
  • Survivor benefits can include lump sum and monthly awards for spouses and dependent children plus all reasonable expenses for funeral and burial services
  • Access to construction-specific workplace health and safety training programs, products and services from Infrastructure Health and Safety Association (IHSA)

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story contained some erroneous and misleading statements, which have now been corrected. We apologize for any confusion this may have caused. January 11, 2013