Local 793 is always looking for ways to improve health and safety for its members.
The social services department is available to answer questions members might have about health and safety.
We work with various industry and safety associations to prevent accidents and educate members. We have also advocated for better crane safety, mandatory training of drill rig operators, and supported numerous health studies. Health and safety in Ontario’s construction sector is governed by the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA).
The OHSA sets out the legislation and rules by which all employers must abide. It is enforced by the Ministry of Labour. Click here for a copy of the Act
About Worker Rights
All workers have three principle rights under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA). They are:
- The right to refuse dangerous work without penalty;
- The right to participate in identifying and correcting health and safety problems;
- The right to know about hazards in the workplace.
Workers have the right to refuse unsafe work without negative consequences. Subsection 43(3) of the OHSA sets out parameters of refusal to work. For example: A worker may refuse to work or do particular work where he or she has reason to believe that:
- Any equipment, machine, device or thing the worker is to use or operate is likely to endanger himself, herself or another worker;
- The physical condition of the workplace or the part thereof in which he or she works or is to work is likely to endanger himself or herself;
- Workplace violence is likely to endanger himself or herself; or
- Any equipment, machine, device or thing he or she is to use or operate or the physical condition of the workplace or the part thereof in which he or she works or is to work is in contravention of the OHSA or the regulations and such contravention is likely to endanger himself, herself or another worker.
Part V of the OHSA sets out the right to refuse or to stop work where health or safety is in danger. Click here for more information. Workers may report unsafe work practices by calling the Ministry of Labour health and safety contact centre at 1-877-202-0008. Note: Workers can voluntarily report workplace exposures to substances and diseases that result in:
- A leak, spill, explosion or release of a dangerous chemical or physical substance; or
- Contact with an infectious substance.
Click here for more information.
Joint Health & Safety Committees
A joint health and safety committee (JHSC) is an advisory group required under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA).
In construction, the size of the workforce and the length of the project determines whether there is a JHSC, a worker trades committee, a single health and safety representative, or no such form of representation.
If a project regularly employs more than 50 workers, at least one certified worker representative and one certified management representative are required on the JHSC.
The constructor is always responsible for creating the joint committee, while the trade unions, or if there are no unions on the site, the workers themselves select members of the worker trades committee.
If you are on a construction site and feel you have a health and safety issue, please contact your district union office.
Click here for more information about JHSCs.
Following are some toolbox topics for members:
Working at Heights Training
All workers who use fall protection on a construction project must complete an approved working at heights training program. This includes workers who met the fall protection training requirements of the Construction Projects Regulation prior to April 1, 2015.
There is a two-year transition period for workers who, prior to April 1, 2015, met the fall protection training requirements set out in subsection 26.2(1) of the Construction Projects Regulation. As of April 1, 2017, workers were required to have completed an approved working at heights training program.
Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) account for 40 per cent of all lost-time claims in Ontario workplaces and are injuries affecting muscles, tendons, ligaments and nerves.
MSDs develop due to the effects of repetitive, forceful or awkward movements on joints, ligaments and other soft tissues.
Following are some steps workers can take to control or eliminate MSD hazards:
- Report MSD hazards and concerns to your supervisor;
- Use the equipment and tools provided to reduce exposure to MSD hazards;
- Know how to make adjustments to the equipment you operate so it suits you and the work you do;
- Take rest breaks from repetitive or forceful tasks;
- Move around and occasionally change positions;
- Go to your supervisor with questions, concerns or for additional training;
- Offer suggestions to improve working conditions to your supervisor or through your health and safety representative;
- Be aware of the symptoms of MSD and if you have any, report them to your Supervisor.
Slips and Trips and Falls
Slips, trips and falls are some of the leading causes of lost-time injuries at work in Ontario. They can occur at any workplace and account for almost 20 per cent of all lost-time injury claims in Ontario.
Following are some steps workers can take to prevent slips, trips and falls:
- Take extra care walking on stairs or uneven surfaces;
- Wear proper-fitting protective footwear with good treads that is appropriate for the work you are doing;
- Pay attention to weather forecasts and beware of rain, snow and black ice;
- Make sure lighting is bright enough to see properly;
- Keep a three-point contact when mounting and dismounting equipment or climbing ladders.
Working In Extreme Heat
Heat is a serious hazard in construction. Working in extreme heat puts stress on a worker’s cooling system.
When heat is combined with other stresses such as hard physical work, loss of fluids, fatigue or some medical conditions, it may lead to heat-related illness, disability and even death.
Following are some steps workers can take to protect themselves from extreme heat:
- Wear light, loose clothing that permits the evaporation of sweat;
- Drink small amounts of water (250ml) every half hour or so. Do not wait until you are thirsty;
- Avoid caffeinated beverages such as tea or coffee;
- If possible, physical demands should be reduced during hot weather, or heavier work scheduled for cooler times of the day;
- Rotating job functions among workers can help minimize overexertion and heat exposure.
Working In Extreme Cold
Working in extremely cold temperatures can lead to dangerous conditions, the most significant of which are frostbite and hypothermia.
Several factors contribute to the risk of injury including: temperature, wind speed, moisture (sweat or working near water), duration of exposure, clothing, work/rest schedule, work performed, and other individual characteristics.
Following are some steps workers can take to protect themselves from extreme cold:
- Wear proper clothes. When selecting proper cold weather clothing a layered approach is best and usually involves using three or more layers of clothing. Also use layering to protect the head, hands and feet;
- Drink plenty of fluids, preferably warm, sweet beverages. Thirst is suppressed in a cold environment and dehydration may occur when fluid intake is reduced;
- Increase caloric intake when working in cold environments. Workers in cold environments who wear heavy, protective clothing expend more heat and so require 10-15 percent more calories;
- Establish a warm-up schedule, if necessary, to provide periodic times for warm-up breaks;
- Avoid the cold if you are becoming exhausted or immobilized as these conditions can accelerate the symptoms of cold weather;
- Cold temperatures often bring snow, ice, and other conditions that increase the risk of slips, trips and falls and extra caution must be exercised when mounting and dismounting from construction equipment as steps and hand hold surfaces may be slippery.
Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL)
Noise induced hearing loss is the most common permanent and preventable occupational injury in the world.
Damage to the eardrum is permanent. It’s not like a bone that can heal if it breaks or skin that can heal after a wound.
Following are some warning signs of NIHL:
- Ringing or buzzing in ears (tinnitus);
- Sounds seem “muffled”;
- Difficulty understanding speech;
- Difficulty following conversations when there is background noise.
Click here for more information.