While working at heights is sometimes required, it can be dangerous so it’s vital that appropriate safety measures are taken. According to Workplace Safety & Insurance Board statistics, roughly one in six lost-time injuries are the result of falls. Construction makes up 8 per cent of the Ontario workforce, and has the highest number of workers killed on the job.

Newfoundland and Labrador and Ontario have already made safety training by an approved provider and protective equipment mandatory for all construction staff who work at heights of more than three meters. Even if the province or territory where your business operates doesn’t require employees to be trained, it’s most definitely worthwhile to implement additional safety measures and policies on your job site.

What are the regulatory requirements for workers who work at heights?

In Ontario, fall protection is required for construction workers. This includes utilizing the following:

  • A travel restraint system
  • A fall restricting system
  • A fall arrest system
  • A safety net
  • A work belt

The responsibility doesn’t just fall on employees; employers must ensure their workers complete a heights training program that has been approved by the Chief Prevention Officer (CPO) and ensure that the training is valid and up to date.

In the event that a Ministry of Labour inspector makes a request for training records, it’s important that employers also keep a record of the following details:

  • Worker’s name
  • The approved training provider’s name
  • The date the training was completed
  • The name of the approved training program

Construction site safety tips to keep your workers safe:

Ladders

  • Inspect each ladder before using it. Unsafe ladders should be tagged and removed from site.
  • Face the ladder while climbing and descending.
  • Always keep three points (two hands and a foot or vice versa) on the ladder.
  • The top rung of the ladder is not a step. (Unless it was specifically designed to be one.)
  • Only place ladders on stable, level surfaces not uneven ground, boxes or barrels.
  • Make sure the top of your straight ladder extends at least three feet above the point of support when positioning it.
  • Check the locks on extension ladders before using them.
  • Put barriers around the ladder if it’s in a high-traffic area.
  • When considering the amount of weight a ladder can safely hold, don’t forget to factor in any tools or materials you happen to be holding while on it.

Scaffolding and other elevated platforms

  • Make sure the scaffolding is safe before using it. The best ways to do this are leaving its assembly to trained people and having it regularly inspected by a qualified person, ideally a professional engineer.
  • Never exceed the load capacity of the platforms with equipment, material or workers.
  • There should be at least two guardrails (three if you count the toe board) on each side of the platform. Removing them temporarily to load large materials is fine; just make sure to reinstall them as soon as you’re able.
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE) must be worn on scaffolds. This includes standard head and foot protection plus a harness when necessary. Any harnessed workers who fall off the platform should be returned to a safe, stable surface and unhooked as soon as possible. Dangling from a harness may cut off circulation and become life threatening after ten minutes.
  • Keep the scaffolds free of any tools and materials that aren’t being used, there isn’t a lot of space up there to begin with.
  • Block off the ground below the scaffold to protect passersby, especially when working with material and items that may fall off.

Harnesses

  • Make sure nothing is damaged and everything is in good working order by regularly inspecting your harness and fall arrest system. Pay close attention to the grommets, straps, and buckles when inspecting.
  • Make sure the harness fits correctly, adjusting the straps so that they fit tightly. Straps should not be twisted and the chest strap should be tight enough to hold you in the harness should you fall. The D-ring should sit centered on your back at your shoulder blades.
  • Ensure leg straps are adjusted to suit your body.
  • Check your lanyard to ensure it is in good working order.
  • Use rope made from man-made fibers and check for fraying.
  • Select an appropriate anchor point that will support you and your crew.

Step up safety

If you work with ladders, scaffolds, or any other elevated platforms, invest time and resources into construction site safety training or equipment. This will help ensure your workers are safe and prevent accidents from turning into tragedies.

Your workers aren’t the only thing you should be protecting. Ensure your business is also protected with insurance. Get a quote today!