The Ontario Ministry of Labour has put up a podcast entitled, “How the Ministry of Labour Investigates Incidents”. A transcript of the podcast, as provided by the MOL on its website, is as follows:
HOW THE MINISTRY OF LABOUR INVESTIGATES INCIDENTS
Hello, and welcome to another MOL Radio podcast.
Today, we’re going to give you a quick overview on how our inspectors investigate incidents that have resulted in either a critical injury or fatality.
Employers are required, by law, to notify the Ministry of Labour by phone or direct communication when a critical injury or a fatality occurs in their workplace. Once the incident is reported, an inspector is dispatched immediately to the event location. The inspector will investigate to determine what happened, and to ensure that similar incidents do not occur.
Once the inspector arrives at the worksite, the primary concern is that no one else is injured. The inspector, working closely with fire, police and other agencies immediately checks to make sure that the site is safe, and that all immediate hazards are addressed and the site is secure.
If needed, a Stop Work Order is issued, so that work cannot resume at the site until the inspector determines that all workers are safe.
The inspector introduces him or herself to the site supervisor or a person in authority. The inspector then asks to meet with management representatives, a Joint Health and Safety Committee worker member, or a health and safety representative where appropriate.
As with any investigation, a thorough gathering of evidence and review of facts is needed to determine what exactly happened, and to ensure that similar incidents do not take place.
The inspector begins to gather information and analyze the evidence. The collection of evidence includes, among other things:
• Conducting interviews with workers and witnesses;
• Inspecting specific processes, areas, or activities related to the incident;
• Requiring the production of information and documents such as equipment maintenance records, worker training records and certifications;
• Requiring the testing of any equipment related to the incident;
• Documenting any concerns in written form;
• Taking photographs or measurements that may be required to verify observations; and
• Issuing orders that address specific hazards or contraventions and stop work orders.
As part of the investigation, the inspector may consult with specialized Ministry of Labour staff, including engineers, industrial hygienists, ergonomists, medical consultants and infection control specialists. The Ministry may also consult with external experts, as required.
If, during the course of the investigation, a hazard is identified that may affect the particular industry, the ministry may issue a Hazard Alert and distribute it through various channels, including inspectors. The alert is also posted on the ministry’s website.
The Ministry of the Attorney General also provides legal assistance throughout the investigation, including the preparation of warrants and the review of prosecution briefs.
Investigations of workplace incidents are thorough, and the evidence collected is very detailed.
Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the ministry has up to one year to complete an investigation. Once the evidence is collected and analyzed, a report is drafted. The report is then reviewed by the Regional Director and the ministry’s Legal Branch.
If charges under the Occupational Health and Safety Act are warranted, they must be laid within one year of the date of the event. If no charges are contemplated, the file is closed.
Ministry investigations are thorough, and may take some time to complete. Aside from finding out what exactly happened, our investigations try to ensure that similar incidents don’t happen again.
That’s it for this segment on MOL Radio.
Thank you for listening.
The podcast is available at http://www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/podcasts/index.php.