Workers Health & Safety Centre

Ensuring worker access to WHSC working at heights training

Ensuring worker access to WHSC working at heights training
Yesterday, the Workers Health & Safety Centre (WHSC) announced official approval from the Ministry of Labour (MOL) for our new Working at Heights training program.
Today, we are writing you to ask for your help in ensuring workers get access to this potentially life-saving training.
We all remember the tragedy of December 24, 2009, where four construction workers fell to their death and another suffered life-altering injuries. This tragedy however was not an isolated incident. Falls from heights continue to be the leading cause of death and critical injuries in Ontario construction. Often the lack of training, or inadequate training for workers, supervisors, joint health and safety committee members and worker representatives is a significant contributing factor. 

To help put a stop to this unacceptable situation, new regulatory changes in Ontario will require employers to ensure untrained or inadequately trained construction workers complete a Ministry of Labour-approved, working at heights training program before they can work at heights and use fall protection equipment and systems. This requirement comes into force April 1, 2015. Fall protection includes travel restraint systems, fall restricting systems, fall arrest systems, safety nets and work belts or safety belts. Approved training is valid for three years from the date of successful completion. Employers must also maintain detailed records of training. The Ministry will allow however, a maximum two-year transition period for workers whose training already meets the existing fall protection training requirements set out in section 26.2 of the Construction Regulations. In these circumstances, employers will have until April 1, 2017 to ensure workers in their employ complete the more comprehensive Ministry-approved working at heights training program.
Either way, program participants don’t need to wait to register for a higher standard of training.
WHSC is booking our approved course now.
WHSC executive director, Dave Killham, is understandably proud of this milestone. “The WHSC has been a long-time advocate for a mandatory working at heights training standard. Our staff on the Ministry working group that developed this standard worked tirelessly to help ensure the standard met the actual needs of those working at heights. Now we are ready to deliver on this much anticipated standard with an approved program of our own.”
As a labour advocate however, you know it is one thing to win improved regulations and another to ensure compliance with them.  This is precisely why we need your help. We didn’t work for an improved training standard, and then create a quality program that meets the standard, so they can sit on the shelf. We need you to help spread the word about this new training standard and the WHSC’s ability to get employers into compliance fast. Please begin by reminding the employers you deal with, your union’s joint health and safety committees and/or worker representatives of these facts.
Killham and others are hopeful this new approach in Ontario will produce results similar to those experienced in Newfoundland and Labrador. After the introduction of mandatory working at heights training in this jurisdiction on January 1, 2012, reported injuries from falls dropped by 25 per cent over the first 16 months.
The WHSC Working at Heights program is divided into two modules — one covering the basic theory of working at heights and a second offering participants an essential hands-on experience with fall protection equipment and systems.
Killham is quick to point out, like other WHSC training, this comprehensive new program is designed to go beyond just legal minimums and ensure real learning takes place. “This is especially important considering lives and livelihoods are in the balance,” adds Killham.
It’s worth noting, according to the MOL, in addition to this new mandatory training standard, employers will also still be required to meet site-specific working at heights training requirements for workers. Consequently, the WHSC also offers Working at Heights Awareness training for employers, supervisors, joint health and safety committee members and worker representatives helping them to ensure this employer duty is met, as well as other important duties, including development of proper safe work and emergency rescue procedures.
Want additional information about the MOL-approved, WHSC Working at Heights training or how we can help your workplace with other training obligations mandated by health and safety law in construction and other sectors?
Call:    1-888-869-7950 and ask to speak to a training service representative
Also, be sure to download and share the WHSC Working at Heights product sheet.