Over a six-week period from October 8 to November 22, Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) officers conducted 298 initial and follow-up inspections of 146 commercial construction employers across Alberta. A total of 214 orders, including 39 stop work orders, were issued.
“We issued stop-work orders at a quarter of the sites we visited,” said Thomas Lukaszuk, minister of employment and immigration, responsible for OHS. “To say I’m disappointed with these results is an understatement. I expect better of industry in Alberta, and I know industry leaders, employers and workers expect better of themselves.”
Fall hazards, including a lack of proper fall protection or fall protection plan, top the list of safety violations with 57 orders, or more than one-quarter of all orders. “This indicates that working high up without proper fall protection is a primary safety issue in the commercial construction sector,” stated the release.
Another 49 orders, or 23 percent of all orders issued, relate to the lack of proper safeguards, which includes coverings for openings and guardrails. “As part of the overall OHS strategic inspection program initiative, focused inspections are directed at industries where specific hazards are known to exist. While forklifts, young workers and residential construction will be the target of focused inspections for 2011, attention will continue on commercial construction projects,” continued the release.
“Clearly, the commercial construction sector has its work cut out,” said Lukaszuk. “The laws are in place and we will continue to ensure they’re followed.”
The Occupational Health and Safety Focused Inspection Project: Commercial Construction findings are available at employment.alberta.ca/ohs
The findings also disclosed that in 2009, there were more than 26,000 lost-time claims in Alberta, approximately 4500 of which were in the construction industry.
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