Workers Health & Safety Centre

Jury calls for mandatory hazard training for all construction workers

Jury calls for mandatory hazard training for all construction workers
A Coroner’s jury is recommending swift passage of long overdue mandatory training requirements for construction workers.

The recommendations were made following an inquest into the death of construction worker Giuseppe Serra, 40, also a member of the Labourer’s International Union of North America (LIUNA). Serra was killed while working on Windsor’s Herb Gray Parkway, June 17, 2014. Employed by PCR Contractors Inc., Serra was part of a six-member crew performing structural concrete work as part of a project to build 11 kilometres of road access to the new Windsor-Detroit Bridge.

The crew was installing and removing pre-manufactured steel concrete formwork panels used to form and hold concrete in place until the concrete has cured and the panels can be removed. The panels weigh about 2,800 pounds and are about 20 feet long and eight feet high. While one panel was hoisted away by the crane, another panel separated from the wall and fell on Serra. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

An inquest headed by Dr. Curtis Fedoruk was held last month.  The jury was told their job is “not to assign blame for Giuseppe Serra’s death, but to determine the cause of death and make recommendations that may prevent similar deaths in the future.”

The five-woman/two-men jury made the following recommendations to the Ministry of Labour’s Chief Prevention Officer:
  1. Direct the current Formwork Working Group to consider implementing standards to mandate that an appropriate number and type of fasteners remain in place to ensure that forms remain upright until they are securely rigged to a hoisting device and to ensure that such fasteners are clearly identified.
  2. Consider whether Construction Regulation 213/91 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act should be amended to require that employees have written procedures for the erection and dismantling of forms, formwork, falsework, and reshoring used on a jobsite and ensure workers are trained in said procedures. Further, the regulation should require that such written procedures accompany design drawings.
  3. Implement the Construction Hazard Awareness Training standards and regulations currently under review by the Ministry of Labour as soon as is practical to ensure all workers receive mandatory hazard awareness training on construction sites.
  4. Consider an amendment to the Construction Regulation 213/91 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, that designates a specific worker be assigned to the process of removal of the fasteners prior to rigging to a hoisting device, and that the supervisor identify to other workers on site who the designated worker is. In the event that the designated worker changes, this information is to be communicated to the workers on site.
  5. Consider an amendment to the Construction Regulation 213/91 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act that requires an employer make reasonable efforts to ensure written information including work instruction, policies and procedures be provided to workers in a language they understand and comprehend.
  6. Implement mandatory training and refresher courses for all workers for high risk activities on construction sites.

Recommendations for mandatory entry level health and safety training standards as well as training standards for high risk activities for construction workers and workers in all sectors were made by an Expert Panel more than five and half years ago. They further recommended entry level training standards for construction should be treated as a priority and implemented in one year. Then-Ministry of Labour Peter Fonseca promised on behalf of the government to act on all recommendations. The Ministry of Labour Prevention Office only just closed public consultations on entry level training standards for construction little over two weeks ago. No regulations or training programs to meet these standards have been developed to date.

In separate court proceedings held last year, Serra’s employer was fined $120,000 after pleading guilty to failing to provide information, instruction and supervision to a worker about a potential hazard as required by Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act.

WHSC offers a wide range of training programs and resources to help workers, their representatives, supervisors and employers understand and exercise their considerable legal occupational health and safety duties and responsibilities.

Want more information on the Ministry of Labour’s proposal to mandate construction hazard awareness training?

Want to read the WHSC’s submission on the Ministry’s proposal?
To learn more:
Call:     1-888-869-7950 and ask to speak with a training services representative