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Preventing Falls in Industrial Workplaces

Safe At Work Ontario
  • Issued: May 2016
  • Content last reviewed: May 2016
  • See also: Fall Hazards

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.

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.

Falls can be prevented by:

  • installing guardrails
  • covering openings in floors or other surfaces
  • providing information and instruction to workers on falls hazards
  • encouraging workers to report falls hazards
  • identifying and assessing the risk of job-specific falls hazards
  • establishing controls to eliminate or reduce workers’ exposure to falls hazards
  • ensuring the control measures are working

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

Hazards 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

The following are some examples of requirements under the Industrial Regulation:

  • floor or other surface requirements [section 11]
  • guardrail installation locations [section 13]
  • guardrail installation requirements [section 14]
  • cover requirements on an opening in a floor, roof or other surface [section 15]
  • portable ladder requirements [section 73]
  • fixed stair or access ladder location requirements [section 19]
  • fixed access ladder requirements [section 18]

Duties of workplace parties

Employers, supervisors and workers have a number of duties and responsibilities under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and Regulation for Industrial Establishments (Regulation 851).

It is the responsibility of employers, owners, and supervisors to ensure all workplace parties comply with the OHSA and its regulations. The employer is required to ensure that basic mandatory health and safety awareness training for all supervisors and workers in the workplace is completed.

Employers

Employers are required to provide supervision, information to, and instruction to all workers on how to protect their health and safety in the workplace. This includes information about safe work policies, measures and procedures specific to the workplace and the duties the worker will perform.

The following are some examples of employers' duties under the OHSA.

Employers are required to:

  • take every reasonable precaution in the circumstances for the protection of workers [section 25 (2) (h)]
  • ensure equipment, materials and protective devices as prescribed are provided, used and maintained in good condition [section 25 (1) (b)]
  • provide workers with information, instruction and supervision and personal protective equipment when required [section 25 (2) (a)]

Supervisors

Supervisors are required to:

  • ensure workers work in compliance with the OHSA and its regulations [section 27 (1) (a)]
  • ensure any equipment, protective device or clothing required by the employer is used or worn by workers [section 27 (1) (b)]
  • advise workers of any potential or actual health or safety dangers known by the supervisor [section 27 (2) (a)]
  • take every reasonable precaution to protect workers [section 27 (2) (c)]

Workers

Workers' duties include:

  • working in compliance with the OHSA and its regulations [section 28 (1) (a)]
  • using or wearing equipment, protective devices or clothing required by the employer [section 28 (1) (b)]
  • reporting to the employer or supervisor the absence of or defect in any equipment or any protective device which the worker knows about [section 28 (1) (c)]
  • reporting any known workplace hazards or OHSA violations to the supervisor or employer [section 28 (1) (d)]
  • being aware of their rights such as the right to refuse unsafe work, except in specified circumstances [section 43]

More information

Toll-free number

Call 1-877-202-0008 any time to report critical injuries, fatalities or work refusals. Call between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday to Friday for general questions about workplace health and safety. Always call 911 in an emergency.

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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.