It’s here! April 1 deadline for Ontario’s new mandatory Working at Heights safety training

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Applies to all workers undertaking construction projects 

Working at Heights safety training - information sheet

Worker tightening fall arrest harness chest strapAs of April 1, 2015, the new Working at Heights Training Program Standard became mandatory for all Ontario construction projects regulated by the Regulations for Construction Projects. The new standard legislates specific requirements for specialized Working at Heights training, as well as for training providers. 

It’s important to note ‘construction activity’ can occur in any industry in connection with a project, including, for example: whenever new machinery is installed, structures undergo maintenance, renovation, or repairs, shafts or tunnels are built, or land is cleared. Regardless of sector, it’s all construction activity – and may include the risk of falls from heights. 

“Typically, businesses find themselves on a ‘construction project’ whenever they’re in a building or maintenance phase,” says Shawn Kirwan, Emergency Services Specialist with Ontario Mine Rescue, a division of Workplace Safety North (WSN). “Quite often, they might be adding a new building, or conducting a large maintenance shutdown – both of which would be considered a construction project. So, whenever they find themselves in constructor role, this Working at Heights Standard will apply.” 

Other provinces already see improvement in worker safety

Kirwan also works with the Newfoundland and Labrador (NL) commission primarily to provide technical advice on course content and instructor capabilities. After NL introduced mandatory Working at Heights training on January 1, 2012, reported fall injuries dropped by 24 per cent in the first 16 months. 

“The Newfoundland experience is already demonstrating a reduction in fall-related injuries and fatalities,” says Kirwan. “Falls account for significant numbers of lost-time injuries, and are likely the most debilitating, longest recovery, and most expensive – in many respects – incurred in industry. I’m actually quite confident in predicting Ontario will experience a similar improvement in worker safety.”

Top 3 things employers should know

According to Kirwan, the new Ontario Working at Heights Standard offers three main benefits:

  1. Reduction in injuries and fatalities from falls, due to the fact the training is mandatory, and the standard prescribes curriculum content, delivery guidelines, learner outcomes, minimum equipment, and minimum training hours for each learner.

  2. Protection for workers from incurring falls by providing basic theory instruction on fall protection and prevention. The basic theory module is three hours in duration, which is likely a significant increase in the training exposure many workers now receive in fall protection.

  3. Limited class size depending on the method of delivery. The practical equipment module must be delivered face-to-face, and will be specific to fall protection equipment and practices which are common to many industries and working at height situations. 

Fast Facts

Worker checking condition of fall arrest harnessIf your workers face fall hazards, you’re required to provide fall protection training.

Is the new training standard mandatory? Yes, regulatory amendments came into effect April 1, 2015 – initially, these amendments affect firms that operate under the Construction Projects Regulation (O. Reg. 213/91). Later, it is expected to be phased-in to apply to other sectors. 

What should you do? Provide workers with training for working at heights that meets or exceeds the new standard. Working at Heights safety training from WSN is designed for compliance with the MOL Working at Heights Program Standard, and learners receive the most up-to-date information with hands-on instruction from industry experts and trained adult educators. The one-day course provides a comprehensive overview of legislated requirements, hazards, and hazard controls related to working at heights. 

How often is refresher training required? For workers covered under Regulations for Construction Projects who have received Working at Heights (WAH) safety training prior to April 1, 2015, their training is valid for two years from this date, and these workers will be required to participate in an MOL-approved WAH training program prior to the end of this two year period; in addition, workers are required to complete site-specific fall prevention training that meets the requirements of section 26.2 of Construction Projects Regulation (O. Reg. 213/91). All MOL-approved WAH safety training programs are valid for three years from the date of training; refresher training is required every three years. For workers covered by all other regulations, including Regulations for Mines and Mining Plants and Regulations for Industrial Establishments, WAH safety training frequency is determined by the employer. Workplace Safety North recommends refresher training at least every three years.


Worker climbing ladderWhat to expect from new Working at Heights training legislation24% decrease in fall injuries in first 16 months for Newfoundland and Labrador

How to apply new Working at Heights Standard to industrial sectorFalls from elevation are a significant hazard in the industrial sector

How to apply new Working at Heights Standard to mining sectorFalls from heights a leading cause of workplace injuries and fatalities

Update on new safety training standard for working at heights'Construction activity' applies to can be found in all industries in Ontario


Working at Heights safety training - information sheet

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