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Blitz Results: Fall Hazards 2016

  • Issued: March 2017
  • Content last reviewed: March 2017

Disclaimer: This resource has been prepared to help the workplace parties understand some of their obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and regulations. It is not legal advice. It is not intended to replace the OHSA or the regulations. For further information please see full disclaimer.

Introduction

Falls are a leading cause of worker injuries and deaths in Ontario.

From May 16 to July 15, 2016, Ministry of Labour inspectors visited construction, industrial, and mining workplaces across Ontario where workers could be at risk of falls. They targeted workplaces known to have a high frequency of injuries involving falls, where complaints have been received and/or previous incidents have occurred, and where there was a history of non-compliance.

Inspectors checked that employers were taking appropriate action to assess and address falls hazards and protect workers’ safety. This included checking that employers were complying with the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and its regulations.

The blitz’s goals were to:

  • raise awareness of falls hazards
  • increase workplace compliance with the law and
  • prevent worker injuries and illnesses that could arise from unsafe work practices.

Background

Workers can be at increased risk of falls due to:

  • lack of training on identifying falls hazards
  • inadequate training for the task
  • lack of proper equipment
  • inadequate barricades to prevent falls
  • poorly maintained equipment
  • improper access to elevated work areas

The blitz was conducted in response to the Chief Prevention Officer's Call to Action for falls prevention and supported the Falls from Heights Action Plan, a collaborative plan of action between the ministry and its partners in occupational health and safety.

Inspection blitzes

Inspection blitzes are part of the province's Safe At Work Ontario compliance strategy. They are announced to the sector by the ministry in advance, although individual workplaces are not notified in advance. Results are posted on the ministry's website.

The blitzes raise awareness of known workplace hazards and promote compliance with the OHSA and its regulations.

Inspectors' findings may impact the frequency and level of future inspections of individual workplaces. Inspectors may also refer employers to health and safety associations for compliance assistance and training.

Report summary

From May 16 to July 15, 2016, ministry inspectors conducted a total of 3,961 field visits to 3,343 workplaces. Some of the workplaces were visited several times.

Inspectors issued a total of 10,321 orders under the OHSA and its regulations, including 653 stop work orders.

Blitz activity at a glance May 16 – July 15, 2016
Sector Field Visits Workplaces Visited Orders Issued [1] Stop Work Orders
Construction 2,316 1,994 5,542 465
Industrial 1,532 1,254 4,416 162
Mining 113 95 363 26
Total 3,961 3,343 10,321 653

[1] Includes requirements and stop work orders.

Detailed blitz reports have been produced by the construction, mining and industrial programs.

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Falls hazards at construction projects

Inspections focused on fall hazards at construction projects due to:

  • missing protective devices (e.g. guardrails)
  • unsuitable and/or poorly maintained guardrails and covers
  • unguarded openings in floors, work surfaces or walls of buildings or other structures, including skylights in existing roof structures
  • lack of appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) (e.g. equipment unavailable, unused or misused)
  • equipment that was misused or in poor condition (e.g. ladders, scaffolds, elevating work platforms or suspended access equipment)
  • poor work practices (e.g. unclear job procedures and lack of training for workers)
  • poor lighting, slippery surfaces and inadequate “housekeeping”

Blitz focus

Inspectors visited a variety of construction projects, including low-rise construction and renovation, high-rise construction and renovation, and high-rise “forming” (structures into which concrete is poured).

Special attention was paid to re-roofing activities at existing homes.

Inspectors focused on the following key priorities at construction projects:

  • Training: Inspectors checked that workers had received training for working at heights and for specific onsite equipment and hazards.
  • Equipment: Inspectors checked that employers were ensuring proper fall protection systems and equipment were available for the work being conducted.
  • Barriers: Inspectors verified that guardrails were installed when needed.
  • Scaffolds: Inspectors checked scaffolding systems for compliance.
  • Surface openings: Inspectors checked that openings in work surfaces were guarded and/or adequately covered.
  • Skylights: Inspectors verified that skylight hazards were assessed and workers were protected.

Inspection activity summary

From May 16 to July 15, 2016, construction inspectors conducted 2,316 field visits to 1,994 workplaces and issued 5,542 orders under the OHSA and its regulations. This included 465 stop work orders.

On average, 2.78 orders were issued per workplace visited. Some of the workplaces were visited several times with an average of 2.39 orders issued per field visit.

Field visits to construction projects
Program activities Numbers
Field visits 2,316
Workplaces visited 1,994
Orders issued [2] 5,542
Stop work orders 465
Requirements 121
Orders and requirements per field visit 2.39
Orders and requirements per workplace visited 2.78

[2] Includes requirements and stop work orders.

Order analysis

Most commonly issued orders under Regulations for Construction Projects at construction projects
Reason for order Number of orders Percentage of total orders issued
Not wearing protective headwear (PPE) [s. 22(1)] 520 9.38%
Missing fall protection system [s. 26.1(2)] 502 9.06%
Not wearing protective footwear [s. 23(1)] 247 4.46%
Guardrail did not meet regulatory requirements [s. 26.1(1)] 175 3.16%
Constructor failed to complete and file Notice of Project [s. 6(3)] 124 2.24%
Constructor failed to establish written emergency procedures [s. 17(1)] 103 1.86%
Missing guardrail [s. 26.3(1)] 93 1.68%
Constructor failed to ensure employers complete a registration form [s. 5(2)] 92 1.66%
Missing guardrail or protective cover for openings on work surfaces [s. 26.3(2)] 92 1.66%
Constructor failed to post Notice of Project [s. 6(6)] 82 1.48%

Of the 5,542 total orders and requirements:

  • 870 orders (15.70 per cent) were issued under the OHSA
  • 465 stop work orders (8.39 per cent) were issued under the OHSA
  • 121 requirements were issued under the OHSA
  • 4,580 orders (82.64 per cent) were issued under the Regulation for Construction Projects
  • 92 orders (1.66 per cent) were issued under other regulations, including the Window Cleaning Regulation (Reg. 859) and Occupational Health and Safety Awareness and Training Regulation (O. Reg. 297/13)

Of the 465 stop work orders issued, more than half were due to violations involving fall protection equipment and training requirements.

Top Hazards Addressed by Construction Regulations Orders
Reason for Order Number of Orders Percentage of Total Blitz Orders Issued
Falls from heights hazards (s. 26 to 26.9) 1,298 23.42%
Other personal protective equipment (PPE) non-compliance (s. 21 to 25) 828 14.94%
Failure to comply with notice or registration requirements of the construction regulation (s. 5 to 6) 383 6.91%
Ladder non-compliance (s. 78 to 84) 288 5.19%
Failure to prepare for an emergency or rescue of a worker (s.17, 26.1(4) and 71) 236 4.26%

Observations

The results indicate falls hazards continue to be a key concern at construction projects. All workplace parties need to improve onsite safety and their understanding of their duties and responsibilities under the OHSA.

Ministry inspectors issued 627 tickets and 138 summonses during this blitz. Under Ontario’s Provincial Offences Act, ministry inspectors have the authority to issue a ticket or summons for minor OHSA violations, and may also initiate prosecutions for certain violations.

Currently, the maximum fine resulting from a ticket or summons is $1,000, although most violations of this nature are subject to a set fine, which generally do not exceed $300. A successful prosecution, though, may result in more severe penalties. Individuals may be fined up to $25,000 and/or imprisoned for up to six months, while corporations may be fined up to $500,000 on each count.

Next steps

The ministry will continue to focus on falls hazards at Ontario construction projects.

One of the primary purposes of the OHSA is to facilitate a strong internal responsibility system (IRS) in the workplace. To this end, the OHSA lays out the duties of employers, supervisors, workers, constructors and workplace owners. Workplace parties’ compliance with their respective statutory duties is essential to the establishment of a strong IRS and the control of hazards in the workplace.

Workplace parties – including employers, supervisors, workers, Joint Health and Safety Committees and health and safety representatives – must continue to work together to identify and control falls hazards.

Compliance help for employers

For compliance assistance, view Ministry of Labour health and safety awareness products for workplace parties. Also see:

For more information on identifying, prevention and controlling these hazards, please contact Ministry of Labour health and safety partners.

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Falls hazards at industrial workplaces

Falls of less than three metres (under 10 feet) are among the leading causes of injuries resulting in workers missing time at workplaces in Ontario's industrial sector. In 2015, there were eight work-related deaths from falls at industrial workplaces.

Employers are responsible for protecting workers from falls hazards at industrial establishments.

Hazards at workplaces in the industrial program can include:

  • poorly maintained and unsafe use of ladders
  • falls through openings in floors or other surfaces
  • falls from equipment, beds of trucks, trailers or loads

Blitz focus

Industrial inspectors visited workplaces where workers might be exposed to falls of less than three metres. They visited workplaces in the following sectors:

  • retail
  • restaurants
  • offices and related services
  • tourism
  • hospitality and recreational services

Industrial inspectors focused on the following key priorities:

  • Policies and programs: Inspectors checked that employers had policies and programs in place to protect workers from falls. This included requirements for safely using ladders and ensuring that an investigation is conducted when incidents involving falls occur. They also checked that employers had emergency rescue procedures for workers who fall.
  • Safe work practices: Inspectors checked that employers had developed safe work practices, including assessing falls risks. They also checked to see if workers were following safe work practices, for example, safely using ladders, mobile stands and platforms.
  • Ladders, mobile stands and platforms: Inspectors checked that employers had assessed ladders, stands and platforms for hazards, and that this equipment was being maintained and placed on firm footing when in use.
  • Trucks/loads: Inspectors checked that employers had put into place safe work practices when workers were at risk of falling from the beds of trucks, trailers or the top of loads.
  • Ergonomics: Inspectors checked that workers were performing tasks in a manner that prevented falls. This included checking workers’ posture, use of force and other ergonomic factors. For example, inspectors checked that workers were carrying objects in a manner that did not obstruct their view or they were working on a ladder in a manner that protected them from losing their balance.
  • Training: Inspectors checked that employers provided workers with information, instruction and supervision to prevent injuries and deaths from falls hazards. This included the right to refuse unsafe work.

Inspection activity summary

From May 16 to July 15, 2016, industrial inspectors conducted 1,532 field visits to 1,254 workplaces and issued 4,416 orders under the OHSA and its regulations. This included 162 stop work orders.

On average, 3.52 orders were issued per workplace visited. Some of the workplaces were visited several times with an average of 2.88 orders issued per field visit.

Field visits to industrial workplaces
Program Activities Numbers
Field visits 1,532
Workplaces visited 1,254
Orders issued [3] 4,416
Stop work orders 162
Requirements 74
Orders and requirements per field visit 2.88
Orders and requirements per workplace visited 3.52

Inspectors visited workplaces in various sectors. See the table below for the top 10 sectors ranked by number of workplaces visited.

Top 10 industrial sectors
Sector Orders issued [4] Stop work orders issued Requirements issued Workplaces visited
Retail 1,469 51 15 511
Wood and metal fabrication 398 24 7 98
Wholesalers 452 26 14 87
Restaurants 287 3 0 66
Industrial services 183 3 4 65
Vehicle sales and service 309 6 3 56
Food, beverage and tobacco 272 8 6 55
Automotive 124 3 0 32
Tourism, hospitality and recreational services 106 3 1 32
Chemical, rubber and plastics 93 2 1 29

[3] [4] Includes requirements and stop work orders.

Order analysis

Most commonly issued orders under the Regulations for Industrial Establishments (Reg. 851)
Reason for order Number of orders Percentage of total orders issued
Condition of the floor or other surface (s. 11) 253 5.73%
Condition of portable ladder (s. 73) 164 3.71%
Condition and operation of a lifting device (s. 51) 154 3.49%
Improper material handling (s. 45) 134 3.03%
Machinery, equipment or material that may tip or fall (s. 46) 114 2.58%
Unguarded in-running nip hazard (s. 25) 96 2.17%
Eyewash fountain not provided (s. 124) 72 1.63%
Missing guardrail (s. 13) 67 1.52%
Unguarded machine, or prime mover or transmission equipment has an exposed moving part (s. 24) 65 1.47%
Fire Code requirements for fire extinguishers and access/egress (s. 123) 46 1.04%
Requirements for storage cylinders for compressed gas (s. 49) 43 0.97%

Of the total orders and requirements:

  • 10.37 per cent (458 orders) were issued under Part III.0.1 of the OHSA provisions for workplace violence and harassment. They involved employers’ failure to comply with requirements to:
    • have workplace violence and workplace harassment policies and programs
    • assess or re-assess the risks of workplace violence arising from the workplace’s nature, type of work or conditions of work
    • provide information and instruction to workers on the workplace violence and workplace harassment policies and programs
  • 10.12 per cent (447 orders) were issued under the Occupational Health and Safety Awareness and Training Regulation for violations involving:
    • basic occupational health and safety awareness training for workers (241 orders or 5.46 per cent of total orders)
    • basic occupational health and safety awareness training for supervisors (193 orders or 4.37 per cent of total orders)
    • maintaining occupational health and safety awareness training records for workers and supervisors (13 orders)
Most commonly issued orders under OHSA
Reason for Order Number of Orders Percentage of Total Blitz Orders Issued
Failure to ensure equipment, materials and protective devices provided by the employer are maintained in good condition [s. 25(1)(b)] 294 6.66%
Failure to post a copy of the OHSA [s. 25(2)(i)] 225 5.10%
Failure to provide information, instruction and supervision to a worker to protect the health or safety of the worker [s. 25(2)(a)] 198 4.48%
Failure to take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of a worker [s. 25(2)(h)] 193 4.37%
Failure to prepare and review, at least annually, a written occupational health and safety policy and develop and maintain a program to implement that policy [s. 25(2)(j)] 154 3.49%
Employer failed to have a workplace health and safety representative at the workplace [s. 8(1)] 114 2.58%
Employer failed to have a health and safety representative do an inspection of the workplace [s. 8(6)] 77 1.74%

Observations

The blitz results indicate workers continue to be exposed to hazards in workplaces involving guardrails, portable ladders, and floors or other work surfaces.

The blitz found that retail, wholesalers, and wood and metal fabrication workplaces had the most orders of any sectors visited.

The ministry will continue to target falls during routine inspections of Ontario's industrial workplaces. Inspectors will continue to check that workers:

  • are informed, instructed and supervised, as required
  • are working in accordance with the OHSA requirements

Next steps

The ministry will continue to raise awareness of falls hazards in Ontario workplaces.

One of the OHSA’s primary purposes is to facilitate a strong internal responsibility system (IRS) in the workplace. To this end, the OHSA lays out the duties of employers, supervisors, workers, constructors and workplace owners. Workplace parties’ compliance with their respective statutory duties is essential to the establishment of a strong IRS and the control of hazards in the workplace.

All workplace parties – employers, supervisors, workers, Joint Health and Safety Committees and health and safety representatives – must continue to work together to identify and control falls hazards.

Compliance help for employers

For compliance assistance, view Ministry of Labour health and safety awareness products for workplace parties, including:

For more information on identifying, prevention and controlling these hazards, please contact Ministry of Labour health and safety partners.

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Fall hazards at mines and mine processing plants

The blitz included a focus on falls in the mining sector. The goal was to prevent worker injuries and deaths. Falls from heights can be prevented. All falls must be addressed to protect workers, including tripping hazards due to poor “housekeeping” or open holes hundreds of meters deep.

In mines and mining plants, workers can be at risk of falling due to:

  • unguarded openings such as those found around mine shafts, ore passes and open stopes
  • elevated work platforms with missing or inadequate guard rail systems
  • working from scissor or man lifts without fall protection in place
  • working in an unsafe manner on ladders and/or on large pieces of mobile equipment
  • changes in elevation due to uneven ground conditions
  • slippery or obscured conditions concealed by mud or water

Blitz focus

Mining inspectors visited any mine or mining plant where workers might be at risk of falls, including recently reopened or new mines.

Mining inspectors focused on the following key priorities:

  • Employer duties: Inspectors checked that employers had policies and procedures in place to protect workers from falls.
  • Safe work: Inspectors checked that employers had conducted risk assessments and had other practices in place to minimize falls hazards.
  • Equipment: Inspectors verified that measures existed to protect workers from falls from ladders, mobile stands and platforms.
  • Guardrails and barricades: Inspectors checked that openings and elevated platforms were properly protected with rails, toe boards and other barriers to prevent falls. They also checked that controls and guarding devices were appropriate for the type of mine and mining methods.
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Inspectors checked that PPE was provided to workers and used in the workplace. This included checking for footwear, head protection, fall protection systems and anchor points engineered for the work.
  • Training: Inspectors verified workers who work at heights had received training. This included training to recognize falls hazards and use appropriate protective measures.
  • Slips and trips: Inspectors checked that slips and trips hazards were being controlled or minimized. They also checked that travelways existed and were being maintained to eliminate tripping hazards. They also verified that any water accumulations concealing tripping hazards had been removed from the workplace and that any slippery surfaces were made safe.
  • Heights: Inspectors verified procedures and work methods were in place to prevent falls from heights.

Inspection activity summary

From May 16 to July 15, 2016, mining inspectors conducted 113 field visits to 95 workplaces and issued 363 orders under the OHSA and its regulations. This included 26 stop work orders.

On average, 3.82 orders were issued per workplace visited. Some of the workplaces were visited several times.

Field visits to mines and mining plants
Program Activities Numbers
Field visits 113
Workplaces visited 95
Orders issued [5] 363
Stop work orders 26
Requirements 8
Orders and requirements per field visit 3.21
Orders and requirements per workplace visited 3.82

[5] Includes requirements and stop work orders.

Order analysis

Most commonly issued orders
Reason for order Number of orders Percentage of total orders issued
Failure to ensure a conveyor has head, tails, drives, defection and tension pulleys guarded at any pinch point that is or may become accessible. [Mining Reg. s. 196(2)(d)] 41 11.29%
Failure to ensure equipment, materials and protective devices provided by employer are maintained in good condition [OHSA s. 25(1)(b)] 23 6.34%
Failure to take every precaution reasonable in circumstances for protection of workers [OHSA s. 25(2)(h)] 21 5.79%
Stop work on any place, equipment, machine, device, article, thing, process or material until order is complied with [OHSA s. 57(6)(a)] 20 5.51%
Failure to comply with requirement a machine with exposed moving parts that could endanger a worker be fenced or guarded unless its position, construction or attachment provides equivalent protection [Mining Reg. s. 185(2)] 18 4.96%
Failure to comply with requirement a machine with exposed moving parts that could endanger a worker be fenced or guarded unless its position, construction or attachment provides equivalent protection [Mining Reg. s. 185(2)] 15 4.13%

Observations

Heightened awareness of hazards can promote change. All workplace parties must continue to be diligent in not allowing workers to become complacent in their daily work routines. Proper management of falls hazards can prevent injuries and deaths.

Prevention

The mining program will continue to raise awareness of falls prevention. It will continue to focus on worker training and encourage the industry to build a culture of zero tolerance towards workplace injuries.

Next steps

The ministry will continue to raise awareness of falls hazards at Ontario’s mining workplaces.

One of the primary purposes of the OHSA is to facilitate a strong internal responsibility system (IRS) in the workplace. To this end, the OHSA lays out the duties of employers, supervisors, workers, constructors and workplace owners. Workplace parties’ compliance with their respective statutory duties is essential to the establishment of a strong IRS and the control of hazards in the workplace.

Employers, supervisors, workers, Joint Health and Safety Committees and health and safety representatives must continue to work together to identify and control fall hazards.

Compliance help for employers

For compliance assistance, view Ministry of Labour health and safety awareness products for workplace parties, including:

For more information on identifying, prevention and controlling these hazards, please contact Ministry of Labour health and safety partners.

Return to top

Disclaimer: This web resource has been prepared to assist the workplace parties in understanding some of their obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and the regulations. It is not intended to replace the OHSA or the regulations and reference should always be made to the official version of the legislation.

It is the responsibility of the workplace parties to ensure compliance with the legislation. This web resource does not constitute legal advice. If you require assistance with respect to the interpretation of the legislation and its potential application in specific circumstances, please contact your legal counsel.

While this web resource will also be available to Ministry of Labour inspectors, they will apply and enforce the OHSA and its regulations based on the facts as they may find them in the workplace. This web resource does not affect their enforcement discretion in any way.