Working at Heights in Canada: New Rules

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According to the statistics of the Workplace and Insurance Board, one in six workplace injuries is caused by falls, This is also the main cause of fatal accidents in the construction industry and Ontario is no exception. As an employer, you must comply with the new regulations of Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act and take any necessary precaution to protect your workers from hazards, including falls, and that means providing them with fall protection equipment and training. Otherwise, you risk prosecution for not abiding the law.

working at heights    If a worker uses a fall protection method, the employer must make sure the following conditions are met:

  1. The worker has attended and successfully finished a Working at Heights Training Workshop that is regulated by the new Working At Heights Training Standard;
  2. The company that provides the training program must also be approved by the Chief Prevention Officer, assuming it meets the Working at Heights Training Provider Standard.
  3. The validity period of the worker’s training is still in effect.
  4. The employer must keep a record of the following information, related to the worker’s Working at Heights training program: the worker’s name, the name of the certified training provider, the exact name of the approved training program and the date on which the training program has been completed. Another suggested method of keeping records is to make a copy of the worker’s CPO- issued proof of completion.
  5. These records must be made available to an inspector from the Ministry of Labour upon request, whether they’re copies or other forms of the worker’s training record keeping.

If the inspector discovers any violations of the Occupational Health and Safety Act and its regulations, he will be forced to take enforcement action as he deems necessary, based on the conditions found at the work site. Enforcement actions include issuing orders that obligate the employer to comply, usually in a certain period of time. In some cases, a stop work order needs to be issued if the hazard is life-threatening. If the employer does not comply, chances are he will be prosecuted, under the Provincial Offences Act.

A Working at Heights training program must meet the requirements of the Working at Heights Training Standard and must be submitted to the Chief Prevention Officer for approval. This training standard has been designed to support logical and quality training for all personnel that works at heights in the Province of Ontario. It comes in a modular format and has two components: Working at Heights Basic theory and Working at Heights Practical, which can be completed separately. At the end of each module, a written test must be taken to verify whether the learner has grasped the key concepts of safely working at heights. To successfully complete the approved Working at Heights Training Program, the test must be passed with a score of minimum 75% and the learner must convince the evaluator he knows how to properly use the fall prevention system by performing a hands-on demonstration.