Working at heights (WAH) in an unsafe manner is one of the leading causes of fatalities at Ontario workplaces, especially for workers in the construction industry.
As of April 1, 2015, new requirements in O. Reg. 297/13 will require employers to ensure that workers on construction projects who need to use any of the following methods of fall protection — travel restraint systems, fall restricting systems, fall arrest systems, safety nets, or work belts or safety belts — complete approved working at heights training.
Workers already trained under the fall protection training requirements of subsection 26.2(1) in O. Reg. 213/91 before April 1 will have an additional two years to get trained under the new requirements (April 1, 2017). As a priority, workers on construction projects who will be working at heights and have not previously received training will require working at heights training as of April 1.
The ministry has been accepting applications from training providers since January. Application forms and other resources for training providers are available from the Ministry of Labour. The ministry’s website additionally lists Chief Prevention Officer (CPO) approved working at heights training providers and the dates they were approved.
To date, the ministry has approved seven training providers. As of March 30, there were over 200 instructors available to deliver approved programs. Please refer to the websites of approved training providers for their details and training dates, times, and locations.
Over 600 training sessions are scheduled across Ontario. WAH training is being offered in various languages and one provider offers courses in Cantonese, Croatian, Mandarin, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Serbian, Spanish and Turkish. More providers are in the final stages of the assessment process and will be posted to the Ministry’s website soon.
Regarding enforcement, inspectors will exercise judgement and discretion when they observe unsafe work at heights and during a critical injury and fatality investigation. Inspectors also have the ability to issue time-based compliance plan orders where proof of training under the fall protection training requirements of Section 26.2 of O. Reg. 213/91 is required but working at heights training has not been completed.
Demand for WAH training will be substantial over the coming weeks and months. The ministry asks employers who normally prefer a certain training organization to consider all providers approved by the CPO.
The ministry is committed to the safety of all workers who work at heights.