The Ministry of Labour (MOL) has announced a new training standard for workers aimed at preventing injuries and fatalities associated with those who work at heights.
The Working at Heights Training Program Standard, which comes into effect on April 1,2015 , will be mandatory for all worksites that fall under the Regulations for Construction Projects. Part of the government’s four-part economic plan, the new standard is designed to ensure that construction employees are sufficiently familiar with hazard identification, ladder safety, the proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and the rights and responsibilities regarding working at heights.
“Falls are the number one cause of critical injuries and fatalities of workers at construction projects in Ontario,” Labour Minister Kevin Flynn said in a Dec. 9 press release. “We need to fix that, and the new mandatory working-at-heights standards are one step we’re taking to ensure workers are safe on the job.”
Ministry spokesperson William Lin indicates that the standard would actually be a two-part requirement: one part to ensure that workers are trained properly, the other for “providers,” setting out requirements for companies who train employees.
“The Training Program Standard is a standard that sets up the minimum criteria that must be achieved by working-at-heights training programs, to attain Chief Prevention Officer Approval,” said Lin. “The goal in standardizing and approving training is to have programs available for workers to achieve a common baseline of basic knowledge and skills for working safely at heights.”
Lin added that there would be two modules to the standard. One will consist of theory, based on knowledge and awareness, and the other will be a practical module consisting of hands-on demonstrations of procedures and PPE, including instruction on how to use and take care of fall protection gear.
This standard applies immediately to all Ontario construction workers who have not already been trained under the Regulations for Construction Projects. Those who already have this training have until April 1, 2017 to qualify for the new requirements.
Although the new standard will be mandatory only for the construction industry, the MOL is considering expanding it to other sectors too. “Right now, we’re focusing on construction because, as you know, the construction sector has a large and disproportionately high number of fatalities involving falls,” said Lin.
Ben Scipione of Paramount Safety Consulting Inc. has already prepared its training platform to include the new training requirements, and as such have been delivering the new program materials since opening in July of 2014.
“I believe the safety of every worker in Ontario is a requirement and not an option” said Ben. “We need to ensure that all workers must be given the training they require in order to ensure a safe and healthy working environment” ” I believe that instructors need to take responsibility in ensuring that the programs they deliver meet or exceed the standards set out” said Ben Scipione of Paramount Safety Consulting.