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BACKGROUNDER

Targeting Falls at Construction Sites this Summer

Inspectors will target hazards that could cause falls at construction sites in July and August 2014 as part of the province’s Safe At Work Ontario enforcement initiative.

During the blitz, Ministry of Labour inspectors will focus on ensuring that constructors, employers, supervisors and workers are complying with requirements under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and its regulations.

Over the past decade, incidents involving falls have resulted in serious injuries and deaths at construction sites across Ontario. In 2013, 16 workers died and 134 workers were critically injured in incidents in the construction sector.

Workers can be at increased risk of falling due to:

  • Missing protective devices (e.g. guardrails)
  • Unsuitable and/or lack of maintenance of guardrails and covers
  • Unguarded openings in floors, work surfaces or walls of buildings or other structures, including skylights
  • Lack of appropriate personal protective equipment (equipment not available, not used or misused)
  • Equipment that is misused or in poor condition (e.g. ladders, scaffolds, elevating work platforms and suspended access equipment)
  • Poor work practices (e.g. unclear job procedures, lack of training,or workers rushing to meet deadlines)
  • Poor lighting, slippery surfaces, inadequate "housekeeping" (a messy, cluttered work area) and other deficient working conditions

Blitz Focus

This summer, inspectors will visit a variety of construction projects, including:

  • low-rise construction
  • high-rise "forming" (structures into which concrete is poured)

Inspectors will also target workplaces:

  • known to have a high-frequency of injuries involving falls
  • where complaints have been received
  • where there is a history of non-compliance

Inspectors will take enforcement action, as appropriate, in response to any violations of the OHSA and its regulations, while focusing on the following key priorities:

Employer Duties – Inspectors will check that employers have policies and programs in place to protect workers from fall hazards, including falls from heights. Inspectors will check that employers are providing appropriate access and egress (exit) to work areas and ensuring ladder safety. They will also check that the employer has emergency rescue procedures for workers who fall or whose fall arrest equipment is activated.

Safe Work Practices – Inspectors will check that employers have safe work practices, including assessing fall hazard risks and responding immediately to any hazards. They will also check for policies and procedures that ensure an investigation takes place into all fall-related incidents. As well, they will check for policies that outline the roles of workplace parties for ensuring good “housekeeping” practices to keep workplaces free of fall hazards.

Falls from ladders, mobile stands and platforms – Inspectors will check that workers work in a safe manner on ladders, stands and platforms. They will also check that the ladders, stands and platforms have been properly assessed for hazards, properly designed, built and maintained and placed on firm footing.

Guardrails and Guarded Openings – Inspectors will check that guardrails are in place and that floor openings, work surfaces or walls of buildings or other structures are covered, as required.

Personal Protective Equipment and Safety Devices – Inspectors will check that fall protection equipment is being properly selected, used and maintained. They will also check on the availability, adequacy and condition of this equipment.

Worker Training – Inspectors will check that workers are properly trained and supervised to prevent injuries and deaths from fall hazards. They will also check that workers know their right to refuse unsafe work.

Falls From Heights – Inspectors will check that fall arrest equipment and/or guardrails or other safety equipment is being used for work on platforms, raised floors, mezzanines, balconies or other work at heights. They will also check that appropriate methods for controlling hazards that could lead to falls are included in constructor and employer health and safety policies and programs. Some methods for controlling hazards leading to falls include engineering controls and personal protective equipment, housekeeping, and the use of appropriate and adequate administrative controls.

Craig MacBride, Minister’s Office, 416-326-7709
Bruce Skeaff, Communications Branch, 416-326-7405

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