Supervisor & Employer Obligations for Fall Protection Safety

08 / 13 / 2014 | Safety Articles | Ryan Michels

If you’re a Canadian construction business a great resource of information on fall safety and protection is the Ontario Ministry of Labour’s website. Considering that falls are the number one cause of critical injuries and deaths of workers at construction sites in Ontario, knowing your responsibilities as an employer or site supervisor is a must. Updates are made frequently so reviewing the latest guidelines is important.  These guidelines will help make sure your knowledge and fall protection systems are how they need to be!

Workers can be at increased risk of falling due to:

  • Missing protective devices (e.g. rooftop guardrails)
  • Unsuitable and/or poorly maintained guardrails and covers
  • Unguarded openings in floors, work surfaces or walls of buildings or other structures, including skylights in existing roof structures
  • Lack of appropriate personal protective equipment (e.g. equipment unavailable, unused or misused)
  • Equipment that is misused or in poor condition (e.g. ladders, scaffolds, elevated work platforms or suspended access equipment)
  • Poor work practices (e.g. unclear job procedures, lack of training or workers rushing to meet deadlines)
  • Poor lighting, slippery surfaces, inadequate ‘housekeeping’ (e.g. a messy, cluttered work area) and other deficient working conditions

Employer Responsibility for Fall Safety:

The OHSA sets out general responsibilities for employers. Among other duties, an employer must:

  • Instruct, inform and supervise workers to protect their health and safety [OHSA clause 25(2)(a)]
  • Appoint competent persons as supervisors [OHSA clause 25(2)(c)]
  • Take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of workers [OHSA clause 25(2)(h)]
  • Post a copy of the OHSA in the workplace [OHSA clause 25(2)(i)]

An employer with six or more employees must:

  • Prepare an occupational health and safety policy, review that policy at least once a year and set up a program to implement it [OHSA clause 25(2)(j)], and
  • Post a copy of the policy in the workplace in a spot workers will be most likely to see it [OHSA clause 25(2)(k)]

Supervisor Responsibility for Fall Safety:

The OHSA sets out certain general duties for workplace supervisors. A supervisor must:

  • Ensure workers work with the protective devices, measures and procedures required by the OHSA and its regulations [OHSA clause 27(1)(a)]
  • Ensure workers use or wear any equipment, protective device or clothing required by the employer [OHSA clause 27(1)(b)]
  • Advise workers of any potential or actual health or safety dangers known by the supervisor [OHSA clause 27(2)(a)]
  • Provide workers with written instructions about the measures and procedures to be taken for the workers’ protection, if required by the regulations [OHSA clause 27(2)(b)]
  • Take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of workers [clause 27(2)(c)]

It’s a small investment up front to make sure you and your workers are protected. Knowing the rules and regulations is part, and having proper fall safety systems is another. W.S. Safety Technologies is current with products and knowledge, contact us with any questions.

About the author

Ryan Michels Ryan has been involved in the design and installation of custom fall protection systems with W.S. Safety Technologies since 2005. Ryan is a specialist in the different types of products, applications, and regulatory codes governing proper design and use of fall protection systems.

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