Falls are the No.1 cause of critical injuries and deaths of workers on construction sites in Ontario.

Workers can be at an increased risk of falling for reasons including (but not limited to):

  • Missing protective devices
  • Poorly maintained guardrails
  • Unprotected openings in structures
  • Lack of personal protective equipment
  • Misuse of equipment
  • Poor equipment conditions
  • Poor work practices
  • Lack of training
  • Poor lighting
  • Slippery surfaces

According to the 2013 Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 294 fall fatalities (284 falls to lower levels) out of 796 total fatalities in the United States construction industry. These falls can be prevented and implementing these three simple steps can save lives:

      1. Plan
      2. Provide
      3. Train

PLAN ahead to get the job done safely

When working from heights, such as ladders, scaffolds, and roofs, employers must plan their projects to ensure the job is done safely. Begin by deciding how the job will be done, what tasks will be involved, and what safety equipment may be needed to complete each task. Make customized checklists of equipment needed for specific jobs, and keep extra copies available.

When estimating the cost of a job, employers should include safety equipment, and plan to have all the necessary equipment and tools available at the construction site. For example, in a roofing job, think about all of the different fall hazards, such as holes, skylights and leading edges, then plan and select fall protection suitable to that work, such as personal fall arrest systems (PFAS).

PROVIDE the right equipment

Workers who are six feet or more above lower levels are at risk for serious injury or death if they should fall. To protect workers up high, employers must provide fall protection and the right equipment for the job.

There are different ladders and scaffolds for different jobs. Always provide workers with the kind of equipment they need to get the job done safely. Roof work, for instance, offers numerous methods in preventing falls. If workers use personal fall arrest systems (PFAS), provide a harness for each worker who needs to tie off to the anchor. Make sure the PFAS fits, and regularly inspect all fall protection equipment to ensure it is still in good condition and safe to use.

TRAIN everyone to use the equipment safely

Falls are prevented on site when workers understand proper setup and safe use of equipment. Workers will need training on the specific equipment they use to complete their jobs and that is the employer’s responsibility.

For more information, visit the Ontario Ministry of Labour briefing