Plant Safety: The rules for pre-development reviews have changed again
On October 7, 2000, the Ontario government amended the existing regulations surrounding pre-development reviews (or PDRs). Under the old PDRs, anyone who wanted to begin construction, reconstruction or alteration of any equipment, machines or devices was required to have a review signed by an engineer before work started. This, however, was unrealistic. From my experience, the majority of people could not provide the PDR before beginning the work. Ontario’s new regulation 582/00 requires a Pre-Start Health and Safety Review, or PSR, before certain hazardous machines, devices or processes are operational.
The regulation also specifies that a professional engineer who is licensed in Ontario must conduct a review for the majority of situations specified by the regulation. In cases involving toxic substances with Occupational Exposure Limits, any appropriately qualified expert may also conduct the review. The owner is also responsible for ensuring that the individual conducting the review carries professional liability insurance. Other than a certificate of authorization from the Professional Engineers of Ontario (PEO), the engineer does not need to meet any specific requirements. Either an employee engineer or an outside consultant can perform the PSR, but employee engineers should be forewarned that engineers who give advice and provide certification can be held liable under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. Only the person whose stamp or signature is on the report is responsible under the Act, and there is no statute of limitations — the signature is valid forever. Any professionals who provide PSRs should make sure to obtain the necessary liability insurance and get the proper coverage.
Previously, the PDRs had to be stored near the equipment in case of a review by the Ministry of Labour. Under the new rules, the PSRs must be presented to either a Joint Health and Safety Committee or a health and safety representative, as well as to any Ministry inspector.
If some, or all, of the measures in the review are not taken, owners must submit written notice to the Joint Health and Safety Committee specifying which acceptable alternative measures have been taken prior to the equipment’s first use. In the end, the Ministry of Labour has the final responsibility for enforcing this regulation.
PSRs are required under the following circumstances:
Storage and dispensing of flammable liquids:
When certain quantities of flammable liquids are stored or dispensed. (The requirements of Ontario Fire Code part 4 applies to flammable and combustible liquids)
When safeguarding devices that signal an apparatus to stop. Examples of these include: light curtains, safety mats, two hand control systems and barrier guards that use interlocking mechanical or electrical safeguarding devices.
Racks and racking systems:
When industrial pallet racks, movable shelf racks and stacker racks made of cold-formed or hot-rolled steel structural members are used.
Potentially explosive processes:
When there are any processes involving flammable liquids or combustible liquids heated above their flash point and processes where flammable gases or combustible dust are potentially explosive.
When there are any processes involving handling of combustible dusts, such as flour, chocolate, powder paint, or wood dust, or where a dust collector or filter receiver is required and may create a condition of imminent hazard to a worker.
Molten metal and foundries:
In cases where factory produces aluminum or steel, or a foundry that melts material or handles molten material.
In instances when the construction, addition, installation or modification relates to a lifting devices, traveling cranes or automobile hoists.
Occupational exposure to hazardous substances:
When a process uses or produces a substance that may result in a worker’s exposure to that substance in excess of any occupational exposure limits. Some examples of this include substances such as silica, isocyanates and asbestos. And while the regulation allows a knowledgeable person or an engineer to sign a PSR, it is not clear how the issue of professional liability insurance would be addressed in this case.
Owners and employers should view the Pre-Start Health and Safety review as a positive change. It will help to ensure health and safety in the workplace, and it shifts the liability for compliance to professionals.
Simon Fridlyand, P.Eng., is the president of S.A.F.E. Engineering, a company specializing in Pre-Start Health and Safety Reviews and audits for fire code compliance. You can reach him at (416) 447-9757.