Latest safety blitz focuses on forklift dangers

Ontario organizations operating forklifts and other lifting devices should expect to see more inspections from the Ministry of Labour this month, according to a statement from Labour Minister Peter Fonseca.

Part of the ministry’s four-year Safe At Work Ontario campaign, the safety blitz this month focuses on ensuring that employers are inspecting lifting devices and maintaining them in good condition, and using only trained and competent persons to operate the equipment. Ministry inspectors will also focus on making sure that employers are using forklifts in a safe work environment.

“Forklifts and other lifting devices are a significant cause of serious worker injury and deaths,” said Fonseca. “The Government of Ontario and its workplace partners are committed to eliminating all workplace injuries, including those related to these lifting devices. Workers have a right to come home each day to their families, safe and sound.”

The Ministry of Labour’s Safe At Work Ontario campaign was launched in July 2008 and involves ramping up safety inspections in high-risk workplaces in the provinces. The ministry previously focused its safety inspections on the construction industry and workplaces with a high number of new and young workers.

Thirteen workers died between 2003 and 2007 as a result of industrial incidents involving lift trucks, reach trucks, forklifts and tow motors, according to ministry statistics.

More than 10,300 forklift-related incidents resulted in lost-time injure between 1996 and 2008. This is an average of 793 incidents each year, according to data from the Occupational Health and Safety Council of Ontario.

The court can impose a fine of up to $500,000 against a corporation convicted under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. Individuals face a fine of up to $25,000 or imprisonment of up to 12 months, or both, according to the Ministry of Labour.