Workers Health & Safety Centre

Government regulates mandatory working at heights training

Government regulates mandatory working at heights training
New regulatory changes in Ontario require every construction sector worker using fall protection to complete an approved working at heights training course by April 1, 2017. Some construction workers will have to complete approved training as early as April 1, 2015.
Fall protection includes travel restraint systems, fall restricting systems, fall arrest systems, safety nets and work belts or safety belts.

The WHSC is a long-time advocate of mandatory, approved training for workers and strongly recommended the government adopt new training standards after four workers fell to their death from a collapsed swing stage on December 24, 2009.

Many hope the new changes will prevent deaths and traumatic injuries. After the introduction of mandatory, approved working at heights training in Newfoundland and Labrador on January 1, 2012, fall injuries dropped by 25 per cent.

Existing requirements
Since June 2002, it has been mandatory for employers subject to the Construction Projects regulation to ensure workers using fall protection are “adequately” trained through oral and written instruction by a competent person. Employers must also maintain written records of training (including workers’ name, training dates and provider’s signature) and make them available to an MOL inspector upon request.

Currently, mandatory training courses are not approved against an accepted standard.

New training standard
With the changes, “adequate” training taken before April 1, 2015 is valid until April 1, 2017.

As of April 1, 2015, construction employers must ensure their workers who haven’t completed “adequate” training complete an MOL-approved course before using any fall protection. Approved training is valid for three years from the date of completion. The training provider must provide detailed, dated records of training which the employer must maintain.

The MOL will begin reviewing and approving courses and providers in early 2015. The Workers Health & Safety Centre will immediately seek review and approval of its Working at Heights training course. Programs and trainers that pass the review will be approved effective April 1, 2015 when the new regulation comes into force.

Q Why do we need to change from “adequate” training to “approved” training? 
  A The 2002 regulation made training mandatory but did not set any quality requirements. Without quality standards, workers may receive inferior training that ill prepares them to use fall protection. Falls from heights is still a leading cause of workplace death on construction sites. WHSC is committed to quality training because evidence shows quality training reduces fall deaths and injuries.
Working at Heights training programs and providers must meet Ministry of Labour standards and be approved by the Chief Prevention Officer. MOL standards for program content and delivery consider:
  • Objectives to achieve learning outcomes through minimum defined content including modules on basic theory and a practical, hands-on sessions
  • Delivery modes to support learners ability and outcomes and which include interactivity with qualified instructors and other learners
  • Plans for learner evaluation.
Q I work in construction but am not required to use fall protection equipment. Do I need to take this training?
  A No, this training is only mandatory for construction sector workers who use fall protection.
Q My construction employer provided “adequate” fall protection training a while ago and gave us a dated record of training. Do I still need to take an approved course?
  A Yes, your employer must ensure you complete an approved course before April 1, 2017. Approved training provides basic, essential knowledge however employers must also ensure workers are adequately trained in aspects specific to each work site and project.  
Q I’m hoping to get work in construction sometime in 2015 and expect I’ll have to use fall protection. Do I have to complete the training before I start work? Does my employer have to provide approved training?
  A Your employer must ensure you complete training before you use fall protection on the job. What training you get depends on when you start work. If you start work before April 1, 2015 your employer must provide fall protection training that adequately meets current requirements but it does not have to be an approved course. If you start work after April 1, 2015 your employer must provide an approved course by an approved training provider. 
Q Does the training expire after a certain period of time?
  A Approved training is valid for three years from the date you successfully completed the training.
The WHSC can help your workplace comply with Working at Heights and other legally required training obligations. Contact us and ask to speak with a training services representative.
To learn more:
Call:    1-888-869-7950