Statistics clearly display the need for fall protection equipment to be provided and training completed. Falls account for half the industrial accidents and related costs each year in North America. Governing bodies and standards associations such as CSA, WSIB and the Ministry of Labour have set stringent requirements for the need of fall protection in industry. Falls cost employers millions of dollars each year, in lost time, compensation, and third party liability suits.
Every year about 20 people die due to falls in Ontario workplaces. Each of these workers’ families lost a spouse, brother, sister, son, daughter or parent as a result of the fall. Other workers suffered critical injuries such as broken limbs, cracked ribs and head injuries. Each year there are about 17,000 lost time injuries due to falls in workplace. “Same level falls” like slips and trips account for 65% of all fall related injuries. Falls from heights that range from a few centimeters to 120 stories account for 35% of fall related injuries and many of the work related deaths that occur in Ontario. Clearly, training and knowledge are not enough. Supervision must ensure that workers not only understand but also apply fall protection on the job.
Facts about Falls
- Falls are the number one cause of accidental deaths in Ontario construction.
- The most common fall hazards in the residential and commercial sectors involve ladders.
- A worker faces the second highest risk of falling when they work on a roof, whether sloped or flat.
- Construction workers have fallen off edges of every description. When an unprotected edge makes you worry about falling, take action. Set up guardrails, install opening covers, or use a fall arrest system securely tied off.
- A number of fatal falls occur among small crews doing low cost, short-term jobs. Workers think the jobs are small and quick enough not to warrant protection. That is usually their fatal mistake.
- Openings in floors and roofs must be covered or be protected by guardrails.
- A worker at risk of falling more than 10 feet (3 meters) must be protected by guardrails. If that’s not practical, then a travel restraint, fall arrest, or safety net system must be used
- Guardrails must be installed if a worker is exposed to a fall of 8 feet (2.4 meters) or more from a floor, bridge surface, runway, ramp, scaffold, other work platform, or roof where formwork is in place.
Why do workers fall?
- Guardrails are missing from floor and roof edges and form platforms such as scaffolds.
- Covers for floor openings are missing or not secured.
- Ladders are not tied off at the top.
- Ladders and scaffolds are in poor shape or used the wrong way.
- Fall protection equipment is not available, used the wrong way, or not used at all.
- Workers are not trained in fall protection.
- Lighting is poor, work surfaces are slippery, and housekeeping is bad
- Sites are not adequately inspected or supervised
- Employers, supervisors, and workers don’t know their responsibilities under the Occupational Health and Safety Act and Regulations – the “Green Book”.
Basics on Fall Protection
Fall Protection, Fall Arrest, Fall Prevention and Fall Restraint are commonly used terms in the industry today and seem to be interchangeable in most conversations, but they all refer to slightly different things. Fall Protection refers to the overall industry and process of protecting workers at height; each of the other terms refers to a module of that process. When speaking of fall protection, the first image that comes to mind is a worker using a full body harness connected to an anchor point with a lanyard. This type of system is a Fall Arrest or more specifically a Personal Fall Arrest system. This is not the limit of fall protection; in fact it is one of the later choices of most fall protection programs. Within the fall protection armoury are systems that fall under the Fall Prevention heading such as guardrails, stair rails, ladder cages, fall restraint systems, warning lines, and controlled access zones, when installed and used as prescribed these systems are usually quite simple.
The Employers Responsibility
The employer must supply all fall protection equipment required, provide formal training, give written information and provide workplace specific details on fall hazards at the worksite
We conduct health and safety training on fall protection and many other courses out of our Vaughan training centre. We also do many safety courses at the employers premises.