Standard applies to construction sector, as well as construction activity in other workplaces
The Ministry of Labour is implementing a new workplace training standard to help prevent falls and improve safety for workers who work at heights.
The new Working at Heights Training Program Standard will initially be voluntary and apply to workplaces in the construction sector, as well as to construction activity in other workplaces. The standard is expected to become mandatory by the summer of 2014 and will later be expanded to all sectors.
Training programs designed to meet this new standard will improve knowledge about fall hazards and safety practices, including:
- Proper inspection of equipment for damage;
- Procedures for setting up, relocating or removing protective equipment, such as guardrails;
- Demonstrations and hands-on training on fall-arrest equipment and other devices to keep workers safe;
- Information on workplace protections and worker's rights.
The new standard builds on existing protections in place for those working at heights, establishing a consistent and high quality level of training for workers across the province. It was developed with input from across various sectors that included business, organized labour, health and safety organizations, and other experts.
Preventing injuries and keeping workers' safe is part of the government's economic plan to invest in people, build modern infrastructure and support a dynamic and innovative business climate.
"At the end of the day, this training standard is about making sure our workers are protected and our businesses are more productive," says Yasir Naqvi, Minister of Labour. "Protecting those working at heights is the next step in helping develop a workplace culture where safety is the centre of the workplace, and ensures workers and employers have the tools and knowledge to stay safe and go home to their families at the end of their shift."
"By standardizing working at heights training, we're ensuring that Ontario workers who are at risk of falling while working at heights are trained in a consistent manner to effectively use equipment that protects them from injury," says George Gritziotis, Chief Prevention Officer for Ontario. "We're working to improve the health and safety of workers in Ontario."
Glen Drewes, member of the electrical workers union, says, "Many of our members work at heights. This new training standard will help raise their awareness of safety and make them more conscientious when using fall arrest equipment. This is going to reduce injuries and save lives."
Developing mandatory fall protection training for people working at heights was a priority recommendation of the Expert Advisory Panel on Occupational Health and Safety.
In 2013, the Ministry of Labour has conducted two enforcement blitzes to protect people working at heights, visiting over 4,527 work sites.
A pilot program inspecting worksites after hours and on weekends was launched fall 2013.
In October 2013, the province posted a video to raise awareness of fall hazards and highlight worker safety initiatives.
Ministry of Labour inspectors have conducted more than 345,000 field visits to workplaces since 2008.