Working at Heights Safety Training deadline now October 1

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Ontario employers required to train workers on proper use of fall protection equipment

Working at Heights Safety Training information sheet - please download, print, and share

Instructor checks student's fall protection harnessAll workers who use fall protection equipment on a construction project must complete an approved working at heights training program.

Falls are a major cause of injury and death in Ontario workplaces, and falls from heights – even though the height may be no more than two or three metres – make up the majority of these incidents. Most of these injuries and deaths happened because fall protection was either missing or not used.

In Ontario, employers are required to provide workers with fall-protection training if the workers will be exposed to fall hazards.

“The training requirement is for workers on construction projects who use fall protection equipment, including travel restraint systems, fall restricting systems, and fall arrest systems,” says Gilles Boisvert, Health and Safety Specialist at Workplace Safety North (WSN).

Boisvert has been teaching the Ministry-approved Working at Heights Safety Training course across Ontario since 2015, and all together, WSN staff has trained more than 4,600 workers.

Classroom instructor demonstrating health and safety fall protection equipment in Ontario Working at Heights Safety Training course“For experienced workers that already met earlier fall protection training legislation, Ontario employers had until April 1, 2017, for workers to complete new training,” explains Boisvert, “but after receiving requests from industry, the new regulation was amended to extend the time for these workers to receive the training by October 1, 2017.”  

The extension applies only to experienced workers – those who completed fall protection training prior to April 1, 2015 – who are enrolled in an approved working at heights safety training program scheduled to be completed before October 1, 2017; other workers should already have received the training, and new workers are required to complete the training, if they don’t already have it.

Learn more about Ministry of Labour-approved working at heights safety training, and WSN Training Partner program for companies that prefer to conduct their own training.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the training mandatory? 

Yes, regulatory amendments came into effect April 1, 2015 – initially, these amendments affected firms that operate under the Construction Projects Regulation (O. Reg. 213/91), which includes any industry where workers are required to work at heights of three metres or more and use fall protection equipment. 

How often is refresher training required?

Refresher training is required every three years. For workers covered by all other regulations, including Regulations for Mines and Mining Plants and Regulations for Industrial Establishments, safety training frequency is determined by the employer. Workplace Safety North recommends refresher training at least every three years.

What should Ontario employers do? 

If your workers face fall hazards on construction projects, Ontario employers are legally required to provide government-approved fall protection training

Important legal definitions you should know

‘Construction activity’ can occur in any industry in Ontario in connection with a project. Typical examples include: whenever new machinery is installed, structures undergo maintenance, renovation, or repairs, shafts or tunnels are built, or land is cleared. Regardless of sector, it’s all construction activity – and that may include the risk of falls from heights. 

The new standard for working at heights in Ontario is activity-based, which makes it applicable to construction projects in any industry, as defined in the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

“Typically, businesses find themselves on a ‘construction project’ whenever they’re in a building or maintenance phase,” says Boisvert. “Quite often, they might be adding a new building, or conducting a large maintenance shutdown – both of which would be considered a construction project. So, whenever they find themselves in constructor role, this working at heights standard will apply.”

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