The Ontario Ministry of Labour (MOL) has consolidated all legal requirements relating to work in confined spaces into a single regulation.
This regulatory amendment is part of the Ontario government's strategy to reduce regulations under their Open for Business initiative. This initiative which came into effect in September, 2008 requires all ministries to achieve a minimum 25 per cent deregulation by 2011.
Ontario Regulation 95/11—Confined Spaces consolidates the confined space requirements from the existing sector regulations for industrial establishments, health care and residential facilities, mines and mining plants and construction projects into Ontario Regulation 632/05—Confined Spaces. This is scheduled to take effect on July 1, 2011. At the same time, the MOL will revoke the sections that apply to confined spaces in the four sector-specific regulations listed above.
These amendments will maintain the differences between the current confined spaces provisions that apply to construction projects as well as those unique to workplaces covered by the other sector regulations mentioned above. For example Section 221.6 of Regulation 213/91 (Construction Projects) requires that a competent person must perform an assessment of the hazards related to a confined space before any worker enters the confined space. Other workplaces do not and will not be provided this protection.
On the other hand, construction workers will not benefit from a specific provision for other regulated workplaces that confined space programs must be developed and maintained in consultation with the joint health and safety committee or health and safety representative (Section 5, Ontario Regulation 632/05—Confined Spaces).
Shocking to many, agricultural workers will continue to be excluded from regulatory protection here in Ontario despite the many confined spaces and related hazards they face. Just last year for instance, two farm workers were killed when overcome by toxic gases while attempting to fix a pump for an apple cider vat (see link below). It was also the recommendation of a recent Expert Panel to afford this vulnerable group coverage under such important regulations.
Want to read the Confined Spaces Regulation to take effect on July 1, 2011?
Want to read about the tragic confined space deaths of two migrant farm workers in 2010?
Want to know about WHSC Confined Spaces training programs. For more information contact a WHSC office toll free at 1-888-869-7950 or contact a WHSC near you.
Want to read the WHSC confined space hazard bulletin?