Workers Health & Safety Centre

Amended Ontario Construction Regulations require safer suspended work platforms

Amended Ontario Construction Regulations require safer suspended work platforms
Recent changes to regulations governing Ontario construction projects include comprehensive new requirements to ensure the safe design and use of suspended access equipment.

These amendments come into effect seven years after a Christmas Eve tragedy left four workers dead and another seriously injured when the scaffolding they were working from broke in half and fell 13 storeys to the ground. Several company officials and the swing stage manufacturer were charged and convicted under the Occupational Health & Safety Act (the Act).
The latest key amendments to O. Reg. 213/91: Construction Projects under the Act came into effect January 1, 2017.  Critical amendments include:
  • New requirements for roof plans and site-specific work plans. (Section 141);
  • New training requirements for workers who may use or inspect suspended access equipment and a further employer duty to designate and provide additional training to “a competent worker” to install and inspect suspended work platforms or boatswain chairs before they are first put into service;  (Section 138);
  • Employers duty to notify the Ministry of Labour before putting suspended access equipment into service (Section 7.1);
  • Deletion of the term “multi-point suspended scaffold(s)” throughout the regulation and replacement with “multi-point suspended work platform(s)” thus expanding the types of work platforms covered; 
  • Strengthened protection for those working on an elevated work platforms. Self-propelled or vehicle-mounted boom-type elevating work platforms and vehicle mounted aerial devices must not be used unless all workers on such equipment are attached to an adequate anchorage pointed by a fall protection method (Section 148.(1))
Since July 1, 2016, workers covered under the Construction Regulations also now have the protection of two longstanding regulations under the Act which govern noise (O. Reg. 381/15: Noise) and a host of hazardous workplace exposures (R.R.O. 1990, Reg. 833: Control of Exposure to Biological or Chemical Agents).
According to the Workplace Safety & Insurance Board, workers in manufacturing, followed by those in the construction sector, reported the most noise induced hearing loss claims in the last ten years. The revised Noise Regulation not only expands coverage but it requires employers to put measures in place to reduce workers’ exposure based upon a hierarchy of controls. This could include using engineering controls and work practices rather than protective devices like earplugs to reduce workers’ exposures.
Across all sectors, occupational cancer is the leading cause of work-related fatalities in Ontario. The Occupational Cancer Research Centre’s Examination of Accepted Workplace Fatality Claims Within Ontario and Canada for the period between 1997 and 2010 identified construction as an industry at high risk for occupational cancer.
Construction health and safety advocates are still waiting for legal requirements to enact mandatory entry level construction training. The training, a priority recommendation from a review of Ontario’s health and safety system, was slated to be implemented within one year of the report by December 2011.

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Want to read related information from the WHSC?
Manufacturer of swing-stage platforms fined $400,000 in deaths of four workers
Workers’ deaths from elevated platform reveals gap in OHS regulations   
Amendments to safety regulations expand protection for construction workers
New Ontario noise regulation to extend coverage for all workers
New Ontario study finds unionized construction sites are safer
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