(Canadian OH&S News)
The province of Ontario is implementing a voluntary new workplace training standard to help prevent falls and improve safety for employees who work at heights.
Announced on Dec. 19, the Working at Heights Training Program Standard applies to workplaces in the construction sector, as well as to construction activity in other workplaces covered by Ontario Regulation 213/91, said a bulletin from the Ministry of Labour (MOL). It is expected to become mandatory by the summer and will later be expanded to all sectors through a phased approach, the bulletin said, adding that consultation on the applicability of the standard to other sectors will be consulted on early this year.
Training programs designed to meet the standard will improve knowledge about fall hazards and safety practices, including topics such as proper inspection of equipment for damage; procedures for setting up, relocating or removing protective equipment, such as guardrails; demonstrations and hands-on training on fall arrest equipment and other devices; and information about workplace protection and workers’ rights.
Background information from the MOL said that workers who use travel restraint systems, fall restricting systems, fall arrest systems or safety nets as a source of protection would complete the two modules in the standard: the Working at Heights Basic Theory Module and the Working at Heights Practical Equipment Module.
The first module contains foundational knowledge for workers and the second contains applied knowledge and hands-on demonstration of personal protective equipment. Other key highlights of the standard include:
* Delivery requirements — modes of delivery, including maximum class size;
* Timing — baseline duration of the training for both modules (three hours and three-and-a-half hours respectively);
* List of required equipment to be used during the second module;
* Evaluation methods of learners; and
* A three-year validity date after successful completion of the training.
Regarding the last point, Jonathan Rose, director of communications for Ontario Labour Minister Yasir Naqvi, said that early this year, the MOL will consult on a Working at Heights Training Provider Standard. That standard will outline requirements for training providers, including administrative requirements and record keeping. “The Ministry is also currently evaluating options regarding administration,” Rose said. “This would include framework around training records for those workers who have successfully completed an approved training program that meets the new standards.”
Developing mandatory fall protection training for people working at heights was a priority recommendation of the Expert Advisory Panel on Occupational Health and Safety. Rose said that the government, through the Chief Prevention Officer, has worked very hard with all of its safety partners to implement the panel’s recommendations.
“The content for the standard was recommended and developed by a cross-industry development group composed of labour and employer representatives and other safety partners,” Rose said. “This working group began developing content for the standard in early 2013 and over a period of several months, a draft standard was created.”
The MOL then reviewed the draft standard with key labour and employer stakeholders and health and safety system partners.
Glen Drewes, the business manager and financial secretary with Local 402 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers union in Thunder Bay, predicted that the standard would reduce injuries and save lives. “Many of our members work at heights,” he said. “This new standard will help raise their awareness of safety and make them more conscientious when using fall arrest equipment.”
The standard can be viewed at http://www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/hs/pubs/wah/index.php.