Safety News You Can Use

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  •  A Brampton manufacturer has pleaded guilty to failing to ensure that certain Occupational Health and Safety Act measures and procedures were carried out when a worker was severely burned in a 2012 accident. The court imposed an $80,000 fine, plus a 25% victim surcharge, which will be credited to a special provincial government fund to assist victims of crime. The worker is not expected to recover or be able to return to work.
  • The Ministry of Labour is considering extending noise protection requirements to certain workplaces that are not currently covered by noise requirements under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.  Industries that might be affected include: health care facilities, schools, farming operations, fire services, police services and amusement parks. The consultation proposal is available for public review and comment until December 29th.
  • Toyota Canada has been fined $65,000 after a worker was caught in a moving production line. The incident took place in October, when an employee on an instrument panel line noticed part of the production line was running in slow mode and reached under the line to press a reset button while the line was in operation.
  • A report has indicated that the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) is still giving rebates to companies that have been found guilty of safety violations leading to injury or death. The Ontario Federation of Labour compared the practices to ‘giving the finger’ to injured workers. Minister of labour Kevin Flynn told reporters that he expects a resolution in early 2015, but he wouldn’t say which changes will be made. 

 

Safety News You Can Use

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  • The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) announced last month that premium rates will not increase for most employers. Maintaining current rates for the second consecutive year can be attributed to improvements in return to work outcomes, more timely adjudication, and lower claim volumes. Only Local Government Services will see rates increase.
  • A Newfoundland and Labrador fishing company that pled guilty to several Occupational Health and Safety breaches has been fined $90,000. Provincial court ruled that the 2012 death occurred as a result of failure to provide necessary employee safety training.
  • Alberta’s provincial Ministry of Jobs, Skills, Training and Labour has begun inspecting gravel crushing worksites following two unrelated deaths in July. The previously scheduled inspections began several weeks early, in response to the two incidents, and will run through September.
  • Results from the May 2014 Ministry of Labour excavation hazards blitz revealed a decrease in the number of orders and requirements (per workplace visited and per field visit), as compared to the 2013 blitz. While this is a sign of overall improvement, there were still frequent compliance issues in the areas of: support systems, personal protective headwear, and emergency procedures.

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.

Only Two Weeks Left to Complete Mandatory OHSA Training

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Ontario regulation 297/13 requires that all workers and supervisors complete Occupational Health and Safety Awareness Training by July 1st, 2014. Training modules are different for workers and supervisors, and it is the employer’s responsibility to ensure that everyone participates, even those in jobs that are not considered hazardous. Training can be conducted using the Ministry of Labour’s online “e-learning” modules or by in-person sessions with employees. Workbooks and other resources are available online, or employers may choose to use their own training materials, provided they cover all required topics in their entirety. To that end, employers who already provided safety training are not required to participate, but it is highly recommended, in order to avoid future Ministry of Labour disputes. Topics included in the new regulation that may have changed or been overlooked during standard employee training are: roles of the ministry, Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB), and Health and Safety Associations. The deadline for employees hired after July 1st is “as soon as practicable” after they start working, whereas new supervisors have only one week to complete the training.

WSIB Coverage Benefits

As of January 1 2013, in Ontario, Workplace Safety Insurance Board coverage is required by law, Bill 119, for almost all people working in the construction sector. For the first time, that includes business owners, who likely have private insurance. Now these independent operators, sole proprietors, partners in a partnership and executive officers without workers (general contractors) need WSIB coverage as well and it’s much more comprehensive than any private insurance.

WSIB coverage provides benefits that private insurance often does not. With the WSIB, coverage provides:

Job Safety Seton WSIB

In addition, those covered by the WSIB are part of the health and safety prevention system, and the corresponding educational and training supports provided to the construction sector by the Infrastructure Health and Safety Association. WSIB coverage will allow you to benefit from these services.

WSIB Rule Changes: Addressing Your Concerns

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Our November story on the new Workplace Safety Insurance Board (WSIB) changes for the construction industry elicited a lot of comments, questions and concerns about the impending changes.  And we wanted to address them.

Despite these concerns, according to the Ministry of Labour senior communications advisor Bill Killorn, this new regulation, Bill 119, is about improving health and safety in the construction industry and reducing underground economic activity.

“We heard from stakeholders that the underground economy puts businesses that play by the rules at a competitive disadvantage,” he says. “With this legislation, Ontario will be better equipped to prevent workplace accidents and diseases.”

One reader asked: If the sole owner of a small limited company that does not employ workers is now required to pay dividends, is he now eligible to collect insurance if injured on a commercial site?

“Yes,” says Christine Arnott, WSIB spokesperson. “Once someone is registered with the WSIB, if they do get injured at work, they will have access to the broad range of benefits and services that the WSIB provides.”

  • 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)

Another reader commented about private insurance compared to WSIB coverage: If they (WSIB) make it mandatory that we pay, I’m sure a good lawyer will be sure to make it mandatory that they pay. I have private policy that is way better and far less expensive.

“Cost of coverage will vary from company to company,” Arnott says.“The important thing is that we will be providing valuable workplace coverage for people in the construction industry.

“If business owners do get injured at work, they will have access to the broad range of benefits and services that the WSIB provides (listed above). We can’t speculate on the coverage that private insurers might provide or their rates.

Even if independent operators, sole proprietors, members of partnerships and executive officers of corporations already have private insurance, this new legislation, Bill 119, requires that they also have WSIB coverage.

“Private coverage does not replace this legal requirement for WSIB coverage,” Arnott states.

“The WSIB provides a competitive, but different no-fault insurance product that protects you from costly lawsuits and has predictable rates, tax-deductible premiums and reliable benefits. Benefits paid by the WSIB can be more comprehensive and cover a broader range of services than those included in most private insurance policies.”

For answers to your questions about the new mandatory WSIB coverage for construction, check out this FAQ page.

“WSIB coverage provides benefits that private insurance often does not,” Killorn says.

“Originally, this law, Bill 119, was introduced in 2008 and we’ve been working with the industry since then, doing calculations on this proposed legislation,” Killorn said.

“At the end of the day, it’s about protecting workers in the construction industry. We wanted everyone to be covered by the WSIB. It’s about keeping workers safe, and heaven forbid, if an accident should happen, they are covered by the WSIB.”

 

 

 

 

 

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