The Workers Health and Safety Centre (WHSC) submitted its Working at Heights
course to the Ministry of Labour for review and approval today.
The Ministry has told training providers the approval process will take about six weeks. Approval requires a detailed review of materials and a course audit. WHSC hopes to receive an approval in mid-February.
Starting April 1, 2015, any construction worker who hasn’t received “adequate” fall protection training must complete a Ministry-approved Working at Heights course before using a fall restricting system, fall arrest system, safety net, work belt or safety belt. Ontario’s Construction Regulations require “adequate training” with oral and written instruction by a competent person.
Any construction worker who has received adequate fall protection training before April 1, 2015 has been given until April 1, 2017 to complete a Ministry-approved Working at Heights course.
Falls from a height are the leading cause of death in the construction sector. Through Working at Heights training, workers learn how to organize work to eliminate or block fall hazards, the best methods of fall protection and the correct use and maintenance of ladders and fall protection equipment.
The Province of Newfoundland and Labrador introduced mandatory, approved Working at Heights training on January 1, 2012. Reported fall injuries dropped by 25 per cent in the first 16 months after the requirement was implemented.
WHSC has been a long-time advocate for mandatory, approved Working at Heights training because of its life-saving effect. WHSC staff served on the Ministry of Labour working group that developed the Working at Heights training and provider standards.
WHSC is developing partnerships with industry unions and employers to build our capacity and bring our high-quality training to every corner of Ontario.
The requirements for mandatory, approved Working at Heights training address part of a recommendation by Tony Dean’s Expert Advisory Panel, which reported in 2010. The Panel recommended mandatory, approved Working at Heights training be in place before the end of 2011. The second part of this specific recommendation was stakeholders be brought together to determine additional high-hazard activities in need of mandatory training standards. These discussions will hopefully begin soon but as of this time they have yet to get underway.
Just the same, WHSC Executive Director, Dave Killham acknowledges this important milestone. “Frankly, I think it begs the question as to whether or not lives could have been saved had implementation not been delayed. Having said that, the WHSC is relieved the requirement will soon be in place and workers working at heights will soon start receiving quality training,” says Killham.
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