Keeping Workers Safe at Ontario Greenhouses | Maintenir la sécurité au serres de l’OntarioOn November 4, 2019 by Raul Dinwiddie
[TITLE: Ontario Greenhouse Worker Safety] Hi, my name is Andrew Selluski. I’m an Occupational Health and Safety Inspector with the Ministry of Labour in the Western Region. [Ontario van approaches greenhouse] Today we’re at Beverly Greenhouses, a cucumber greenhouse in southwestern Ontario. The focus of today’s video is to look at a greenhouse operation. We’ll be looking for compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the farming regulations. Additionally, we’ll observe any biosecurity protocols required by the employer. [Andrew inside van, speaking on phone] Andrew: I’ve just arrived at the greenhouse. Is there anything I need to bring in with me for biosecurity purposes? I do have coveralls and I do have booties. [Andrew removes biosecurity equipment from van] Biosecurity protocols are necessary at greenhouses to protect the integrity of the product and because many visitors to greenhouses, such as Ministry of Labour inspectors, are going from different workplace to different workplace on a regular basis and we don’t want to cause any cross-contamination of products. Andrew: Hi Jan, Andrew Selluski, Ministry of Labour. How are you? Jan: Hello Andrew. I’m good thanks. Thanks for calling ahead, that was great. Andrew: I’ll introduce myself and get to know the workplace parties. I’ll explain the purpose of the Ministry of Labour inspection. And then we’ll begin with an administrative review looking at the size of the workforce. Andrew: “Can you tell me how many workers do you have here?
Jan: 25 today. Andrew: And do you have a Joint Health and Safety Committee in place here?
Jan: Yes we do. Andrew: Based on the information obtained during the administrative review, we’ll conduct a physical inspection of the workplace. When we conduct our inspections, we will involve a representative of the employer and a representative of the workers. Depending on the size of the workforce, that could be a Health And Safety rep, a Joint Health & Safety committee member or another member of the workforce in general. Andrew: Just looking down at the walking and work surfaces, they’re in good condition today. We always want to make sure that you’re keeping an eye out for spills and puddles, anything that could be a slip, trip or fall hazard. Housekeeping is very important in greenhouse operations. Slips, trips and falls can happen very easily if the floor conditions are poorly-maintained. Andrew: And what kind of training do you receive as a worker out here in the greenhouse? Jonathan: Whenever anybody starts and, once a year we have a training program and it involves food safety, it involves farm safety. Andrew: When we look for training, we’ll look to see if workers are aware of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, their rights and responsibilities. We’ll look to see that workers using equipment and machinery are properly-trained and competent to use that equipment. Especially motorized vehicles and lifting devices. Andrew: …we have a copy of the Act with the farming regulation, the prevention poster and what I really like seeing in an operation such as a greenhouse, is documents posted in alternate languages. [Cucumbers moving along conveyor belt] With respect to workplace ergonomics, we’ll look at repetitive tasks. The height of work, the job rotations, the tools and equipment that are available to workers. In greenhouses, workers do, a variety of tasks which can be repetitive. De-leafing, pruning, packing, handling of carts and totes and crates of product. We want to know that all the workplace parties are aware of the steps they can take to reduce the risks associated with musculoskeletal injuries. We’ll speak to workers about working around conveyors, moving equipment, manual material handling and the packing duties that they’re performing and we’ll also expect that they’re familiar with how to start and stop the machine safely. We’ll look to see if motorized equipment and lifting devices are in use. With respect to those devices, we want to know that workers are trained and competent to use them and that they’re being maintained in good condition. [Packaging machine making boxes] We’ll look at the machinery and equipment to see that there’s appropriate guards, shields, barriers, preventative measures, including signage and whether or not workers are familiar with the principles of lock-out and tag-out. We’ll also look to see if there’s chemicals at the workplace and how those are stored and handled. Employers in Ontario are responsible for taking every reasonable precaution for the protection of their workers. Employers need to appoint competent supervisors. Supervisors are also responsible for addressing concerns brought to their attention by workers in a timely manner. Andrew: Okay guys, thanks very much for your time today. I prepared a field visit report for you which details the activities we did today. I’ll review my observations and findings with the workplace parties. I’ll then document our activities in a field visit report. This written report is delivered to the workplace parties, we review the contents and it’ll be posted in the workplace for all workers to see. Greenhouses are busy operations and it’s important that all workplace parties play a role in maintaining a safe and healthy workplace. For more information, please visit the following websites: ontario.ca/farmworkersafety |
healthandsafetyontario.ca/resources/topiclist/agriculture-industry-sector | Ontario.ca/farmsafety End Graphic: Special Thanks [Beverly Greenhouse logo]