Working at Heights Requirements
Working at Heights and fall protection are intertwined in the workplace. Working at Heights is a task that is common in many construction projects. However, this is quite common in industrial settings. Working at heights applies where a worker may be exposed to any of the following hazards:
- Falling more than 3 metres.
- Falling more than 1.2 metres, if the work area is used as a path for a wheelbarrow or similar equipment.
- Falling into operating machinery.
- Falling into water or another liquid.
- Falling into or onto a hazardous substance or object.
- Falling through an opening on a work surface.
Some of the tasks that may involve working at heights include but are not limited to:
- Use of elevating work platforms (Scissor Lifts, Genie Booms)
- Use of Order Pickers
- Use of Suspended Access Equipment (commonly known as Swing Stages, Bosun Chairs or Suspended Platforms)
- Use of scaffolds and ladders
- Working near or at edges of buildings, ledges, walkways
- Where a guardrail is not feasible or possible
Regulation 851 – Industrial Establishments Section 85
Where a worker is exposed to the hazard of falling and the surface to which he or she might fall is more than three metres below the position where he or she is situated:
- The worker shall wear the proper safety equipment; a serviceable safety belt or harness and lifeline that is adequately secured to a fixed support and so arranged that the worker cannot fall freely for a vertical distance of more than 1.5 metres: and
- The fall arrest system described in clause (a) shall,
- Have sufficient capacity to absorb twice the energy and twice the load that under the circumstances of its use may be transmitted to it, and
- Be equipped with a shock absorber or other devices to limit the maximum arresting force to 8.0 kilonewtons to the worker.
To help ensure workplace health and safety, it is essential that all workers take and practice the proper worksite safety measures to avoid these hazards.
Regulation 213/91 – Construction Projects Section 26.1 – 26.9
A worker shall be adequately protected by a guardrail system that meets the requirements of Regulation 213/91 Subsections 26.3 (2) to (8). If it is not practical to install a guardrail system a worker shall be adequately protected by the highest ranked method that is practicable from the following ranking of fall protection methods:
- A travel restraint system that meets the requirements of section 26.4.
- A fall restricting system that meets the requirements of section 26.5.
- A fall arrest system, other than a fall restricting system designed for use in wood pole climbing, that meets the requirements of section 26.6.
- A safety net
An employer shall ensure that a worker who may use a fall protection system is adequately trained in its use and given adequate oral and written instructions by a competent person. It is of utmost importance to establish the proper health and safety policy in the workplace to ensure this.
Fall protection is the use of controls designed to protect personnel from falling or in the event they do fall, to stop them without causing severe injury. Typically, fall protection is implemented when working at heights, but may be relevant when working near any edge, such as near a pit or hole, or performing work on a steep surface. There are four generally accepted categories of fall protection: fall elimination, fall prevention, fall arrest and administrative controls.
- Fall Elimination is often the preferred way of providing fall protection. This entails finding ways of completing tasks without working at heights.
- Fall Prevention can be fall guarding or fall restraint. Fall guarding is the use of guard rails or other barricades to prevent a person from falling. These barricades are placed near an edge where a fall-hazard can occur, or to surround a weak surface (such as a skylight on a roof) which may break when stepped on. Fall restraint is a class of PPE to prevent persons who are in a fall hazard area from falling, e.g., fall restraint lanyards. Typically, fall restraint will physically prevent a worker from approaching an edge.
- Fall Arrest is the form of fall protection that stops a person who has fallen.
- Administrative Controls are used along with other measures, but they do not physically prevent a worker from going over an edge. Examples of administrative controls include placing a safety observer or warning line near an edge or enforcing a safety policy which trains workers and requires them to adhere to other fall protection measures or prohibiting any un-restrained worker from approaching an edge.
Working at Heights training is detailed in Regulation 297/13: Occupational Health and Safety Awareness Training in Section 6-11 for the Construction Industry. There are no specific guidelines in place for fall protection training for Industrial settings beyond ensuring workers are trained on the hazards.
Workers must complete and maintain this training when any of the following methods of fall protection are used:
- Travel Restraint System
- Fall Restricting System
- Fall Arrest System
- Safety Nets
- Work Belts
- Safety Belts
Working at heights (WAH) training is mandatory for workers who may use a method of fall protection to protect themselves from a fall hazard. Employers in the Construction Industry must ensure their workers are provided with working at heights training approved by the Chief Prevention Office of the Ministry of Labour, Training, and Skills Development (MLTSD). Training must be taken before a worker can use fall protection and a refresher course must be taken every three years. Workers in other industries including industrial, mining or health care sectors or workers that may be exposed to fall hazards during their work must also complete Working at Heights training as the workers must be trained on the hazards of falls in the workplace.
Work Plans and Procedures
Working at Heights training is only a starting point. Employers must ensure workers are given site-specific training and proper oral and written instructions. This includes making them aware of fall hazards at the project and provide instruction on particular equipment being used.
Employers should ensure the site supervisor conducts a hazard assessment or job safety analysis (JSA) of the job site and develops a fall protection work plan. If workers use a fall arrest system, employers must develop procedures for rescuing a suspended worker. Supervisors can also put up posters and warning signs around the worksite and distribute stickers to workers to remind them about fall hazards on site.
The supervisor should review the results of the assessment and the requirements of the fall protection work plan with workers on the site. This can be accomplished through a safety talk held on site. Successful safety talks include the following:
- Plan your safety talk. Ensure everyone on site can attend. Decide the day and time, how long it will be, etc.
- Review the fall prevention program. This includes the types of falls, training requirements and the rescue procedures
- Gather feedback, allow for questions and follow up to provide answers to workers.
The goal of health and safety in general is to ensure workers go home to their families at the end of the day. Work from heights poses a significant hazard to workers and is not for everyone. Workers must be provided information, instruction and supervision to protect them from the health and safety risks of the work. Developing procedures and training provide workers with the tools to stay safe when working at heights.
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