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Ontario lifts agricultural exemption on boilers and pressure vessels

Registration and inspections must be completed by next year.

August 11, 2020  By Greta Chiu

Source: Adobe Stock

The Ontario agricultural exemption on boilers and pressure vessels will be lifted in 2021, and greenhouse growers should take note.

“As of July 1, 2021, all boilers, pressure vessels or piping used exclusively for agricultural purposes must comply with the Boilers and Pressure Vessels regulation. There will be no changes to the exemptions under the Operating Engineers regulation or the Elevating Devices regulation – these exemptions will remain in place,” states Lisa Thompson, Minister of Government and Consumer Services, in a letter sent to stakeholders dated July 24, 2020.

Without the exemption in place, the Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA) can now help enforce proper boiler use in agricultural operations. All pressure vessels must be registered with the TSSA by March 1, 2021 and inspected by July 1, 2021.


Jan VanderHout, president of The Ontario Greenhouse Alliance (TOGA) and co-owner of Beverly Greenhouses in Waterdown, Ont., see this decision as a positive measure to enhance public safety and emphasizes that the operating engineers exemption remains intact.

“We will have a little more accountability in that our equipment is operating up to standards,” says VanderHout. For over three years, TOGA had been working with the government of Ontario on a pathway to compliance. “I would like to thank Minister Thompson, Flowers Canada (Ontario) and Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers for their diligence.”

According to Thompson’s letter, the appended TSSA guidelines will first bring “high-risk equipment into compliance and then lower-risk equipment at staggered timeframes over the next five years.”

The first inspection would be conducted as an “initial inspection” by the TSSA, explains Ryan Jones of Farm Mutual Re. Boilers and pressure vessels will be checked against existing installation requirements. The owner would then be allotted 18 to 60 months to complete the inspector’s orders, depending on the type of equipment. Since the TSSA charges on an hourly basis, Jones estimates that inspection costs could reach a few thousand dollars for a larger greenhouse, whereas a smaller grower might expect costs to be around five to six hundred dollars.

Subsequent inspections would be conducted every one to three years by an insurance carrier, Jones adds. For his company, Jones says this was a significant change that came without much notice. “We weren’t anticipating this in such short order,” he says. Their company is currently reviewing the new guidelines with their members and clients.

For over three years, Ontario had been conducting a comprehensive review of the agricultural exemption on boilers, including several items that may or may not have posed safety concerns.

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