The Ministry of Labour conducts workplace inspection blitzes throughout the year as part of the “Safe at Work Ontario” compliance strategy, which according to Workplace Safety & Prevention Services is, “designed to raise awareness and increase compliance with health and safety legislation.” What do these MOL blitzes mean for your staffing firm and how can you be prepared for when they visit you?
What Is a Ministry of Labour Blitz?
MOL blitzes focus on sector-specific hazards and concern a wide range of programs. From basic employment standards to health and safety requirements, MOL blitzes seek to protect workers’ rights under both the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Employment Standards Act, and enhance employers' awareness of their responsibilities. The focus of MOL blitzes and initiatives are announced ahead of time, but individual workplaces are not identified in advance nor are they given notice.
Health and safety in the workplace is addressed by MOL blitzes and initiatives that aim to raise awareness of workplace hazards. This includes issues such as falls, slips, and trips and, notably, new and young workers. If your client has recently staffed summer students or season workers, they may be subject to an MOL blitz where inspectors will be looking for adequate training, orientation and supervision, and safety measures and procedures within the workplace.
MOL blitzes and initiatives also check that employers across the province are upholding employment standards. Inspections may occur regarding issues such as: minimum wage rates, work hours, overtime, holiday pay, and statutory holidays. As the number of people working rises, it is important to fairly and accurately compensate staff within the workplace for the work they do. As a staffing firm, it is paramount to make sure that the quality of employment of your clients and staff are protected.
What Does This Mean?
MOL blitzes target workplace hazards that can lead to high-cost injury claims that have severe ramifications for both the workplace and your staffing firm. Any claims that result from injuries that cause fatalities or long-term and/or chronic disabilities are passed along to employers in the form of higher WSIB assessments, insurance premiums, lost time, and lower productivity. Moreover, as a staffing firm, placing staff into a potentially unsafe work environment reflects badly on your clients and on your business.
What Can You Do?
As a successful staffing firm, you need to ensure that client’s workplaces are not only safe and properly documented, but that the temporary workers you manage know their rights, have the proper qualifications, and have signed the appropriate documentation. Workers must be aware of the duties of their position, so they don’t take on more than they are qualified for, and know that they have the right to refuse unsafe work.
Ignorance is not an excuse and being proactive and seeking help from the professionals is the best way to be ready for a MOL blitz. Identify the potential hazards in your client’s workplace yourself and establish a plan for how to approach any injury or illness. Having a well-documented health and safety program visibly in place is essential to safeguarding both your client and your staffing firm. Find out what exactly needs to be done to ensure compliance before the inspector arrives and considering performing a spontaneous audit on the workplace yourself.
If the workplace is targeted for a MOL blitz, work with the inspector and comply in correcting any deficiencies identified by the MOL inspector. Workplaces must allow the MOL inspector into the workplace and during the blitz campaign, inspectors have been instructed to take a zero-tolerance approach, meaning that if a workplace is found to be non-compliant, the MOL will prosecute in some way. This may extend to both your client’s workplace and your staffing business, too.
Make sure your staffing firm is prepared for the 2017-2018 Ministry of Labour blitzes.