Workers Health & Safety Centre

New WHSC Fall Protection program for construction workers

New WHSC Fall Protection program for construction workers
Fueled by the December 24, 2009 fall-related incident where four construction workers were killed and another seriously injured, the Ministry of Labour (MOL) recently conducted blitzes targeting working from heights on Ontario construction projects. Inspections identified: a lack of supervision; missing, poorly maintained and improperly operated fall protection systems; a lack of safe work procedures; and, inadequate training for both workers and supervisors.
To help address the recognized training gap, the Workers Health & Safety Centre has just released a new Fall Protection training program for construction workers.

Learning objectives

Designed to be delivered over four hours, participants will come away with a full understanding of:
  • duties of the workplace parties under the Occupational Health and Safety Act;
  • the procedure for refusing unsafe work;
  • workplace conditions for which guardrails or fall protection is legally required;
  • types of fall protection;
  • specific components of fall arrest and travel restraint systems and applicable Canadian Standards Association (CSA) Standards;
  • legal requirements for guardrails and bumplines, including design requirements;
  • the safe use of ladders, fall restraint and arrest systems; and
  • inspection, maintenance, and storage considerations for ladders, fall restraint and arrest systems.

Small-format participant manual

Upon completion of the program participants will also take away a handy pocket-sized booklet formatted for easy reference on the job site. The booklet covers 33 fall-related topics including:
  • Construction fall hazards such as openings in the floor, unprotected roof and floor edges, unguarded stair wells or access ramps, unstable walking and working surfaces, ladders and scaffolding;
  • Applicable controls such as barriers, guardrails, warning signs, travel restraint systems, fall arrest systems and safety nets (This section first encourages though, ways in which work at heights can be eliminated altogether. Building roof framing on the ground and then lifting it into position is but an example cited);
  • An overview of the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Regulations for Construction Projects with discussion focused on duties of all workplace parties including employers, workers, contractors, supervisors, health and safety representatives, worker trades and joint health and safety committees;
  • Maintenance and storage procedures for fall protection devices, emphasizing prevention of conditions that may damage these devices such as exposure to solvents, corrosive environments, excessive heat or cold; and
  • The safe use of ladders, related legal requirements and situations where falls can occur while working with ladders, including handling bulky of heavy material overhead, unstable or uneven ground, high winds, snow or rain, working near electrical hazards and defective equipment.

Delivery techniques

As with most WHSC programs delivery of this new program is highly interactive. To carry out the program objectives, Instructors will employ a variety of techniques including active lectures, a brain storm exercise on identifying fall hazards, plus group discussions about factors contributing to falls, maintenance and storage of fall protection equipment and criteria for selecting portable ladders.
To conclude the program, participants work on a buzz group questionnaire designed to help them become familiar with the participants’ booklet and evaluate how well learning objectives were achieved.

Other related programs

In addition to this new program, the WHSC offers an existing three-hour, generic program entitled Work at Heights which is also available in French. It is intended for workers, their supervisors, members of joint health and safety committees and health and safety representatives employed in workplaces where work at heights has been identified as a potential hazard.
Please note however this existing program was formerly called Fall Protection. With the introduction of the construction sector course we felt the title Fall Protection was most appropriate for the new program and hence renamed the generic program to avoid confusion for our clients at least.