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Nine Zero Tolerances in Occupational Health and Safety

In order to mobilize the industry's efforts and reduce the risk of accidents as much as possible, the CNESST has identified 9 priority targets on which emphasis is placed during their interventions. We present to you how to comply with them in order to avoid derogations or a statement of offence.

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Nine Zero Tolerances in Occupational Health and Safety

Possible consequences for your organization

A violation of the Occupational Health and Safety Act or Regulations could have serious consequences for your organization.

In the event of a breach of one or more of these nine targets, the CNESST may :

  • Order the suspension of work or shutdown of equipment (LSST, art. 186).
  • The offenders will be liable to criminal prosecution and be fined (LSST art. 236 et 237).

1. Falls from a height of more than three meters

Workers in many sectors are exposed to the risk of falls from heights, which can result in very serious injuries. Employers must therefore take the necessary measures to ensure the safety of their employees.

The employer must : 

– When workers are exposed to risks of falling from a height of more than three meters, provide for the installation of a means or equipment of collective protection, such as a guardrail ;

Depending on the work situation, one or more of the following measures should also be in place :

– The organization of work must prioritize the performance of tasks from the ground;

– The use of personal protective equipment must be in accordance with the regulations;

– The use of personal protective equipment must be done in accordance with the regulations; Guardrails or any other collective means of protection must be designed in accordance with the regulations;

– Employees must be trained on the applicable risks and the safety measures in place;

– Etc.

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2. Falls from a ladder

When the ladder is used by workers for short duration tasks (less than one hour), the following safety rules must be observed.

If the ladder is used as a means of access : 

– It must be installed on a stable base, securely fastened, and extend at least 900 millimetres beyond the top landing;

– The worker must have his or her hands free to climb up or down the ladder and always maintain three points of support.

If the ladder is used as a workstation:

– It must be installed on a stable base;

– If the ladder is used as a workstation: It must be installed on a stable base; Provide fall protection, such as a harness, if the worker is exposed to a fall of more than 3 metres from the ground;

– The work method used must allow the worker to maintain his or her body between the ladder’s uprights and retain three support points at all times.

Other prevention measures to be implemented :

– Ensure that the ladder or stepladder used complies with regulations;

– Inspect ladders and stepladders regularly to verify their condition;

Train workers on the safe use of ladders and stepladders;

– Etc.

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3. Contact with a moving part of a machine

In construction, agriculture, cabinet making, food processing or any factory work, workers who use a machine or tool must be able to do so safely at all times. Therefore, the employer must implement specific measures to ensure that employees are never in direct contact with a hazardous area of equipment.

The employer must :

– Install guards or protectors to prevent access to moving parts of a machine while it is operating.

Other preventive measures to be implemented:

– Develop and implement measures to identify, correct, and control hazards associated with hazardous areas of equipment under his or her authority;

– Ensure the safety of the organization’s new machines before they are put into operation;

– Ensure that guards or protective devices replaced on equipment are at least as safe as the original;

– Adopt work methods that move the worker away from the danger zone of equipment, such as pushers or jigs;

– Inspecting machines regularly to ensure that all guards and safety devices are in place and in good condition;

– Etc.

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4. Electrification with a live power line

A fall with injury, electrocution, electrification or even a severe burn are all potential consequences of a contact with a live power line or a bad approach to it. Employers and workers must therefore prioritize off-line work at all costs. When this approach cannot be considered for mandatory technical reasons, strict safety measures must be put in place.

When work must be performed near an overhead power line, the employer must ensure that the following preventive measures are put in place, in order of priority:

  1. The power line is de-energized;
  2. If this is not possible, a written agreement shall be established with the power company such as Hydro-Québec on the safety measures to be taken;
  3. At all times during the work, people, parts, equipment and machinery are located farther from the power line than the minimum approach distances*;
  4. The machinery used is equipped with a range-limiting device that allows the specified approach distances to be respected;
  5. Employees are adequately trained.

Depending on the work situation, one or more of the following measures must also be implemented :

– In cases where the work is performed on a construction site, notify the CNESST of the work performed near a power line in the notice of opening of the site.

– Before doing any digging work, proceed with a survey by Info-Excavation.

– And so on.

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Safety distances to respect when working near a power line* :

– 3 m from a power line under 125 kV ;

– 5 m from a 125 to 250 kV power line;

– 8 m from a 250 to 550 kV power line;

– 12 m from a power line over 550 kV

5. Collapse of scaffolding

The use of a scaffolding is accompanied by various risks, such as the collapse or the overturning of the structure. To ensure the safety of workers, certain measures must be put in place.

The employer must :

– Securely tie the scaffold to a building or structure with anchors, or to the ground with guy wires ;

– Ensure that the metal uprights rest on plates and planks;

Depending on the work situation, one or more of the following measures should also be implemented :

– Ensure that floors are at least 470 mm wide, free of obstructions and installed so that they cannot slip or tip. Edges must be within 350 mm of the construction;

– Access to the work floor must be unobstructed, including by ladder, stairway or from inside the building;

– Scaffolding components must be in good condition and properly installed according to the manufacturer’s recommendations;

– Scaffolding must be equipped with guardrails when workers on it are exposed to a fall hazard of more than 3 meters;

– The wheels and casters of a mobile scaffold must be equipped with brakes or another locking device;

– The scaffold must be installed away from power lines;

– Etc.

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6. Collapse of the walls of an unshored excavation

Unfortunately, every year workers get trapped or buried in trenches or excavations while working in them. This type of accident causes mostly irreversible injuries, which is why certain rules must be respected.

The employer must respect at least one of the following measures during digging work, depending on the situation :

– Shoring is preferred, the walls are solidly shored, with quality materials and in accordance with the plans and specifications of an engineer ;

– The excavation is done on sound rock;

– It is not necessary for a worker to descend into the excavation;

– The walls do not present a landslide hazard AND an engineer certifies that shoring is not required. The angle of the excavation or trench walls corresponds to the natural angle of repose of the type of soil to be excavated.

Depending on the work situation, one or more of the following measures must also be in place :

– Materials are deposited more than 1.2 meters from the top of the walls ;

– Vehicles and machinery are driven or parked more than 3 metres from the walls, unless reinforced shoring has been provided accordingly;

– The shoring extends 300 mm outside the excavation, except in the case of a trench dug on a public road where the trench must be covered to restore traffic during periods when no work is being done;

– When workers are in a trench, the employer shall station an experienced person on the surface to detect faults, cave-ins or any other source of danger.

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7. Exposure to asbestos dust

Prolonged exposure to asbestos dust can lead to lung disease, respiratory problems and even death in exposed workers. Because of its harmful health effects, exposure to asbestos dust should be minimized.

To reduce worker exposure to asbestos dust, employers should :

– Check for the presence of asbestos and its type, if any, before beginning work that may emit asbestos dust;

– Provide the worker with appropriate respiratory protection when exposed to asbestos dust. It is also recommended that respiratory protection fit tests be conducted to ensure that the equipment is appropriate and that workers are trained to use it;

– Check for dust emissions before starting work on materials or products, including asbestos-containing or potentially asbestos-containing sheeting and lagging.

Depending on the work situation, one or more of the following measures should be taken by the employer to reduce worker exposure :

– Favour methods that limit dust dispersion as much as possible, such as an airtight enclosure, ventilation, extraction using a high efficiency system, etc.

– Provide the worker with protective clothing according to the nature of the work;

– Establish and maintain an asbestos safety management record;

– Repair or remove damaged materials that may contain asbestos (MSCA);

Train and inform workers on hazards, prevention methods and safe work practices before undertaking work that may emit asbestos dust;

– Etc.

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We recommend that you be accompanied by a team of prevention experts to carry out these preventive measures.

8. Exposure to silica dust

Silica, which can be found in sand, rock, marble or granite, can cause serious lung disease in exposed workers. When cutting or polishing these minerals, workers are exposed to fine dust. Uncontrolled, this exposure can lead to occupational diseases such as silicosis and sometimes even death.

To control the risks of this exposure, here are the preventive measures to put in place :

– To control crystalline silica emissions at the source, use wet processes, equipment with a source capture system or local ventilation systems ;

– A respiratory protection program should be developed and workers should be trained in the use, care and storage of respirators;

– Exposed workers must wear appropriate respiratory protection;

– Workers shall be trained in the hazards associated with exposure to crystalline silica and in the use of emission control devices;

– Equipment used to prevent dust emission is inspected, in good condition and functioning optimally during operating hours.

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9. Unstable rocks

Unstable rocks on the roofs or walls of underground mining excavations can fall on a worker and cause serious consequences. Various checks must be carried out to ensure the stability of an underground excavation and thus avoid accidents.

To control hazards related to unstable rock, the employer must :

– Ensure that the roof and walls of each underground excavation are free of unstable rock ;

– Obtain plans and specifications from an engineer before beginning an underground excavation and ensure that these are updated as the work progresses.

Depending on the work situation, one or more of the following measures should also be implemented :

– Close all accesses to a derelict underground excavation and post signs to prohibit access at each of the closure points ;

– Provide training to employees according to modules I, II, III, IV, V and VI of the modular training course for mine workers published by the Commission scolaire de l’Or-et-des-Bois and hold a certificate to this effect;

– Etc.

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