Province ramps-up workplace safety inspections

Monte McNaughton, the MPP for Lambton-Kent-Middlesex and the Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development, makes an announcement in Watford. 14 August 2020. ( photo by Colin Gowdy)

The Ontario government says it’s expanding workplace inspections in the ongoing battle against COVID-19.

The government inspected hundreds of retailers in the GTA and Hamilton January 16 and 17.

Labour Minister and Lambton-Kent-Middlesex MPP Monte McNaughton said over 300 provincial offences officers will be now be visiting an expanded range of workplaces, including distribution centres, warehouses, big box stores, constructions sites and farms.

McNaughton said the recently announced “Stay Safe All Day” campaign is going to help ensure workers aren’t getting sick on break and during off-the-job tasks.

“Inspectors are now visiting the kitchen and the break room. They’re reminding everyone to wear masks, maintain distance and to wash their hands,” he said. “In fact, we’ve learned that it is these off-the-job tasks that are leading to workers getting sick. That’s going to change with our new campaign.”

McNaughton said the blitzes began last week in Hastings and Prince Edward counties, followed by Durham, Niagara, Windsor, Halton Region, Huron-Perth, Peterborough, Toronto, Kitchener-Waterloo, Hamilton, and Leeds Grenville & Lanark.

He said since the start of the pandemic, inspectors have made nearly 35,000 visits to workplaces to ensure safety is a top priority.

“We’ve shut down 61 unsafe workplaces and job sites, [six over the past week], where our inspectors went in and determined that workers were unsafe.”

McNaughton said during last weekend’s inspection blitz when inspectors checked 242 big chain stores in the GTA and Hamilton area, only 69 per cent were doing what they were supposed to do, leading to 25 tickets and 53 orders being issued.

“Shareholders have the responsibility to keep their workers and customers safe. I want businesses to know, if they won’t operate safely in this emergency, you won’t operate at all.”

Fines range from a minimum $750, up to $10,000 for individuals, and $10-million for corporations.