Ontario Government Has Engineers Up In Arms
The Ontario government has quietly made a decision to reverse an industrial exception legislation, but engineers all across Ontario are making as much noise as they can. The decisions creates less health and safety standards for manufacturers in the province.
In 2010, a law was passed which allowed non-engineers to carry out engineer-specific tasks, and shortly after the government stated it would be reversing this law. It even proclaimed the law would be reversed on September 30th, 2013. It has since announced it will be abandoning all attempts to reverse the legislation.
So, is it really all that important that engineers perform tasks that are best suited to engineers? Take the example of a linear actuator. If this motion device goes out of calibration, the person who is working on the line has authorization to re-calibrate the device even if they aren’t trained. Alternatively, their supervisor may instruct them to perform the re-calibration, even if they would rather not. By law, the individual has no rights to refuse to do this task; the reversal of the law would have given the workers a viable reason to refuse safe work.
If an untrained worker performs a recalibration of an electric actuator, there are a number of things that can go wrong. They may incorrectly recalibrate, they may not know how to cut all sources of power before doing work or they may cause the company thousands of dollars in damage – for which they may find themselves responsible.
Oddly, Ontario is the only province in Canada that has this legislation, and manufacturers are severely disappointed at the government’s decision. The president of Professional Engineers Ontario (PEO) has stated, “The provincial government’s troubling decision not to proclaim the provision to repeal the exception allows engineering work by unlicensed and unaccountable individuals to continue. It also leaves a gap in PEO’s ability to regulate acts of engineering and puts some workers in a position where they are required by their employers to perform work they may not be qualified to do.”
The PEO will continue to meet and discuss the most serious consequences of this decision in the future. Accident and fatality rates in the manufacturing industry are five times higher in Ontario than they are in any other province, and most feel this fact has been blatantly ignored by the government’s decision. The PEO will continue to fight for worker’s rights and safety.