March 28, 2019
Ontario’s second annual Falls Awareness Week (FAW) will take place May 6-10, 2019. The goal is to raise awareness to the falls hazards that exist in every job, through workplace discussion and participation. At some point in the week, workplaces are encouraged to stop work for 15-20 minutes to have a safety talk about fall hazards specific to their work environment.

According to the Ministry of Labour website, “Falls from height contribute to a significant proportion of injuries and fatalities experienced in Ontario workplaces. Between 2009 and 2016 there were 92 fatal falls from heights. Where the height of the fall was available, 64 per cent of the fall fatalities were due to falls from heights of six metres or less, which correspond to heights of one to two storeys. Data also shows that a fall from a ladder of three metres or less (the standard one-storey floor height) is common and can result in death depending on what part of the body is affected. Falls from ladders are also a big factor in serious injuries. Of the 92 fatal falls, ‘unsafe ladder use’ was a contributing factor in 16 of the 92 fatalities (17 per cent). The majority (56 per cent) of the fatalities which occurred due to unsafe ladder use took place on construction sites.”

Since April 1, 2015, when the province’s new Working at Heights Training Standard came into effect, more than 550,000 Ontario workers across all sectors (the vast majority from construction), have completed the working-at-heights training program.

MOL blitz on slips, trips and falls

Injuries from slips, trips and falls are on the Ministry of Labour’s radar with an inspection initiative planned for April 15 - July 12, 2019. The campaign is part of a province-wide slips, trips and falls initiative for all sectors that began March 18.

Businesses are encouraged to take a proactive approach, and be prepared for what inspectors are looking for. This includes:
  • Having a well-documented health and safety program in place.
  • Ensuring employees are aware of hazards (through regular safety talks and posted warnings).
  • Documentation that employees have been trained in a working at heights program.

Feedback needed on temporary stairs at construction sites

The Ontario Ministry of Labour (MOL) is seeking input until April 25, 2019 to help clarify existing requirements for temporary stairs set out in the Construction Projects regulation (O. Reg. 213/91) under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA).

The proposal would amend current temporary stairs provisions by:
  • Clarifying where temporary stairs should start and end (i.e. requiring temporary stairs in underground levels).
  • Identifying specific situations where the installation of temporary stairs may not be possible.
  • Revising width dimensions to accommodate for movement of large equipment.
The ministry is seeking feedback on these proposed changes and the assessment of the impact of the changes outlined in a regulatory impact analysis.

To give your feedback, visit the Ontario government website and click on Comment on this proposal via email at the bottom of the page.