Suspended Access User Training in Vaughan, Woodbridge, Brampton, Mississauga, Markham, North York and Toronto


This guidance document sets out some of the workplace party duties under the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), some of the access and fall protection requirements outlined in Regulation 859: Window Cleaning and some industry best practices pertaining to the use of:

  • boatswain’s chairs
  • suspended work platform systems
  • rope access

This resource is intended to assist:

  • design engineers
  • building owners
  • employers
  • supervisors
  • workers

It covers some general areas of the regulation as well as key technical areas including:

  • Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development (MLTSD) expectations and recommendations for practices that may not be specifically addressed in Regulation 859
  • the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) standards and other standards, including industry codes of practices
    • in many instances, the standards have been included to provide guidance for workplace parties

Workplace parties must ensure that they comply with the requirements of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), Regulation 859: Window Cleaning, and the Building Code including standard CAN/CSA-Z91 that applies to external anchor systems. Where there may be conflicts between regulatory requirements and recommended standards in this guidance, then regulatory requirements prevail.

The OHSA, together with Regulation 859, outlines the legal requirements for engineers, building owners, employers, supervisors and workers in the window cleaning industry. Owners, employers, supervisors and workers have responsibilities under the OHSA and its regulations and are required to be familiar with and comply with the legislation and its regulations. For information about the OHSA, refer to the Guide to the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

Note that the term “employer” under the OHSA includes:

  • a contractor or subcontractor who performs work or supplies services
  • a contractor or subcontractor who undertakes with an owner, constructor, contractor, subcontractor to perform work or supply services

This guidance document does not replace the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and its regulations and should not be used as or considered legal advice. Health and safety inspectors apply the law based on the facts in the workplace.

This guidance document references the following sources where applicable:

  • The Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA, or “the Act”)
  • Regulation 859: Window Cleaning
  • CAN/CSA Standard Z91-17 “Health and Safety Code for Suspended Equipment Operations”
  • CAN/CSA Standard Z271-10 “Safety Code for Suspended Platforms

Notification requirements

Notice of window cleaning work

Before any worker begins window cleaning at a building where a suspended scaffold, boatswain’s chair or similar single-point suspension equipment is used, every employer, contractor and sub-contractor who proposes to carry out window cleaning at the building shall give notice of the proposed window cleaning by telephone to an inspector in the office of the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development (MLTSD) that is nearest to the location where the work is taking place [Regulation 859, section 7(1)].

Public protection

If practicable, a sufficient number of signs stating “danger – work overhead” in legible letters must be posted in prominent locations to warn pedestrians that window cleaning is being carried out overhead [Regulation 859, section 12].

Worker protection

Barriers, warning signs or other safeguards that are used to protect workers must be used where vehicular or pedestrian traffic may endanger the safety of any worker, disturb the worker’s safety lines or support lines (for example, restricted public access to the support system area) [Regulation 859, section 13]. The equipment should be stored in a secured position when not in use.

Electrical hazards

Electrical equipment, power lines and insulating materials shall be suitable for use and be installed, maintained, modified and operated so they do not present a hazard to a worker [Regulation 859, section 32].

The employer should ensure electrical panels on the roof are locked out and tagged to prevent unauthorized worker access to exposed energized parts. In addition, subject to the exceptions stated in subsection 35(2) of Regulation 859, no object or piece of equipment shall be closer than the distance specified in subsection 35(1) to an energized outdoor overhead electrical conductor.