Workers Health & Safety Centre

Working at heights training key to worker safety, employer compliance

Worker deaths and critical injuries along with employer convictions remain all too common consequences of falls on Ontario construction sites and other workplaces.
Fifteen workers were killed and many more suffered critical injuries on Ontario construction sites in 2018 as a result of falls. This was more than double the number killed from falls in 2017.
All the while, some Ontario employers still fail to meet even minimum legal obligations to provide adequate fall protection, including training and competent supervision. Employers are being charged and convicted.

Employer convictions mount

Most recently, a Bala, Ontario construction, landscaping and property maintenance business was convicted and fined a total of $56,250 after a worker fell 15 feet from an extension ladder while cutting tree branches with a chain saw. Among the many finding of a Ministry of Labour (MOL) investigation, the worker was not protected in any way from falling, had no experience with chain saws or working at height and was not provided training.      
In July, an Ottawa construction company was convicted and fined $75,000 for failing to ensure adequate fall protection on an Oakville, Ontario job site. A single two by four piece of wood wedged between brick columns was relied on as a guardrail. As the worker descended a ladder while working on a second floor balcony he grabbed hold of the wood which gave way leading to a fall to the ground 11 feet below.   
Earlier this year, the owner of a Belleville roofing company was sentenced to serve seven days in jail after multiple convictions relating to lack of fall protection.

Employer safety obligations

All Ontario employers are required to provide workers with information, instruction and supervision and take every reasonable precaution to ensure fall protection.   
Construction sector employers have more specific obligations to provide adequate fall protection. They must also ensure a construction worker who may use a fall protection system is adequately trained in its use and given adequate oral and written instructions by a competent person [Construction Reg., s. 26.2(1)]. Since 2015, “adequate” in Ontario means employers in the construction sector must also ensure construction workers complete a working at heights (WAH) program that meets training standards and is approved by the MOL’s Chief Prevention Officer, delivered by an approved provider, before they start work at heights and use fall protection equipment.
Approved WAH training is valid for three years from the date of successful completion. For continued compliance, employers must ensure workers they employ complete an approved WAH refresher training every three years thereafter.

Standardized training WORKS

Approved, standardized WAH training has also translated into measurable benefits. Ninety per cent of workers surveyed by the Institute for Work and Health found the training to be useful or very useful. Working at heights safety practices substantially improved too, including checking for fall hazards and maintaining 100 per cent tie-off. Employers also reported improvements in the form of new equipment purchases, guardrail implementation, development of fall rescue plans and more frequent inspection of equipment. Most important, lost-time injury claim rates owing to falls decreased by almost 20 per cent.  

Comply now... WHSC can help!

Despite these important successes, we mustn’t get complacent. New hires and those with new assignments will need to complete WAH training before working at heights. Others require retraining to remain in compliance.
Workers Health & Safety Centre (WHSC) is a leading provider of approved Working at Heights and Working at Heights Refresher training. 
Both programs are:
  • priced competitively,
  • designed to ensure critical learning is achieved,
  • delivered by experienced instructors from the trades, and
  • supported by complete training records and replacement cards when needed.

Register today to ensure access to Working at Heights training or Working at Heights Refresher training scheduled in a number of communities in January and February, 2020.  
Don’t see a date that works for you?
Call 1-888-869-7950 and ask to speak to a WHSC training services representative. With enough participants we can bring this training directly to your work site or facility.

Need more WAH information still?
Check out our online Working at Heights information resources.