Fall Prevention Awareness: Teach Your Workers About Fall Protection

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Since falls can be a cause of serious injury (and even death) in the workplace—especially on the construction job site—it’s important to continuously educate workers about fall hazards and how to prevent them.

While every job site is different, employers must take the time to train workers on how to work safely among their unique fall hazards. Part of that training must include the various types of fall protection.

The Infrastructure Health & Safety Association offers these guidelines on how to choose the most appropriate fall protection for every job, and highlights the following options:

Guardrails: Eliminate fall hazards by eliminated open edges.  All workers in the area are protected.

Opening Covers: Floor-opening covers must fully cover openings and be fastened securely. Label opening covers clearly so workers are aware of them.

Fall-Arrest and Travel-Restraint Systems: Fall-arrest systems prevent workers from hitting the ground when they fall. Travel-restraint systems prevent workers from falling at all.

What types of fall protection do you provide your workers? When was the last time you provided fall protection training? If you don’t already have one, should you put a fall protection training and education program in place?

Safety News You Can Use

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A company was fined $80,000 after a worker suffered injuries from falling into a storage bin that collapsed while it was being pushed.

A Ministry of Labour investigation uncovered that the side of the bin the worker was pushing had latches that are designed to collapse the bins for shipping. The worker was apparently unaware that the latches could be hazardous and that many workers push the bins in the same way this worker did.

Learn more here.

Contractor Fined After Workers are Burned

A contractor was fined $80,000 after two workers were burned while working on electrical equipment that was not properly shut off. While the workers performed their duties, an arc flash within the switch gear unit occurred. Both workers suffered second- and first-degree burns and one received third-degree burns.

Read more here.

Roofing Company and Owner Violate Worker Safety

A roofing company and its owner were fined for various workers safety violations. The company was fined $33,000 for failing to ensure workers wore fall protection, protective headwear and protective footwear. The owner was fined $14,000 for failing to ensure workers wore fall protection.

Click here for more details.

Avoid Falls: Basic Facts About Fall Protective Equipment

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If your workers could fall three meters or more while doing their job, they need fall protection. If fall protection is required at your job site, it’s important that you create a fall protection program. The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) suggests a program include training workers, as well as selecting, fitting and inspecting fall safety equipment.

Here are some basics about the general care of fall protective equipment:

  • Inspect your equipment before each use.
  • Replace defective equipment.
  • Replace any equipment, including ropes, involved in a fall.
  • Inspect and certify (at least yearly) every piece of fall arrest equipment. Keep written records of inspections and approvals.
  • Use energy absorbers if the arresting forces of the lanyard alone can cause injury.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions (this includes instructions and limitations on use, as well as instructions for fitting and adjusting).
  • Use the right equipment for the job. Refer to the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) Standards Z259 (regarding body belts, full body harnesses, and other fall prevention PPE).

If your workers require fall protection to do their jobs, do you know if they are using the right equipment? When was the last time you inspected your fall protection equipment?

Safety News You Can Use

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Manitoba recently appointed Dennis Nikkel as its new chief prevention officer. Nikkel will provide guidance regarding workplace injury and illness prevention.

Nikkel has held many roles for the Manitoba government, including environmental control officer and director of occupational health for Workplace Safety and Health. He has also been the chair of the Minister’s Advisory Council on Workplace Safety and Health since 2011.

Learn more here.

Manufacturer Fined After Worker Death

A manufacturer has been fined $100,000 after a worker was killed at the company’s facility. The worker was fatally wounded after coming into contact with a moving machine part that should have been guarded. It was determined that the guard was broken.

The company pleaded guilty to the change that it failed to ensure that a machine with a moving part was guarded to prevent worker injury.

Click here to read more.

Company and Supervisors Fined After One Worker Died, Another Injured

A company and two supervisors pleaded guilty and were fined $133,000 after one worker was killed and another worker was injured during a fall.

The workers were insulating overhead pipes in a mechanical room of a garage. They were positioned on a scissor lift near a door. When the door hit the lift, both workers fell 20 feet below to a concrete floor. One worker died from blunt head trauma injuries and died days later. The other suffered broken bones.

The company was fined for failing to protect workers’ safety and the supervisors were also fined for not properly protecting workers.

Learn more here.

Compliance Update: Understanding New Guidelines Regarding Rope Access

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A new Occupational Health and Safety Regulation and guidelines for rope access were released earlier this year. Part 34—Rope Access of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation (OHSR) applies to industrial rope access (such as construction, building maintenance and bridge inspection).

A safety bulletin from WorkSafeBC defines rope access as “a specialized technique for work positioning and rescue where a worker is intentionally and directly suspended on ropes at height, often as a versatile, economically efficient alternative to scaffolding or swing stages.”

The new guidelines focus on training, safe work practices and equipment.  For instance, they address how rope access training relates to other disciplines of work. They also explain how safe work practices related to various types of rope access work. Also included are requirements around rescuing workers after a rope access incident, as well as requirements related to the inspection and testing of permanent anchors used in a rope access system.

Safety News You Can Use

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WorkSafeNB and CCOHS (Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety) have launched an online guide to New Brunswick’s occupational health and safety legislation.

The guide will include 30 topics and will feature links to a variety of resources, such as interpretations, summaries, legislation, hazard alerts and safety talks. Topics include fall protection, guardrails and confined spaces.

For more information, click here.

Construction Company Fined After Young Worker Death

A construction company was fined $120,000 after a young worker was killed after a fall on a construction site.

The worker initially received head and leg injuries, but later died. It was found that the worker did not receive fall protection training and was not using any type of fall protection when the accident happened.

Another company was also fined in the incident, receiving a fine of $90,000 earlier this year for failing to ensure a fall restricting system was used where a guardrail system was not reasonably possible.

Click here to read more.

Accident Takes Life of Construction Worker

A construction worker was killed after he was trapped under clay and dirt following the collapse of a sewer trench.

Prior to the accident, the worker was digging a trench with a backhoe operator. He was buried for many hours before emergency workers were able to free him.

The accident is under investigation by Alberta’s occupational health and safety authorities.

Click here for more details.

Safety News You Can Use

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A construction company was fined $90,000 after a young worker was killed after falling from a roof. The worker was helping to deliver concrete blocks to the roof when he fell.

The worker had received fall protection training, but was not wearing any fall protection gear when the accident happened.

The company admitted guilt to not ensuring that a fall restricting system was used where a guardrail system could not be utilized.

Learn more about the incident here.

Mining Company and Supervisor Fined for Putting Workers at Risk

A mining company and a supervisor were fined $88,000 for safety violations in a mine.

Workers backfilling part of the mine were working with sandfill, a substance consisting of sand, cement and water. The cement was known to cause chemical burns when in contact with skin.

A worker removing sections of pipe to help continue backfilling the area became stuck when sandfill poured around the worker. Seven workers freed the stuck worker, but all had burns on their legs and one needed skin grafts.

The company failed to ensure machinery was locked out and tagged before work was done on the pipes. It also failed to educate workers on the safe procedures for backfilling.

Read more about the fine here.

Recycling Company Fined in Worker Death

A recycling company was fined $225,000 after a worker was killed picking up recycling. The worker lost control of the truck he was driving. He was ejected and died from his injuries.

An investigation revealed that an occupant safety restraint device was not being used at the time of the accidents. Also, the truck’s right-side door safety restraint device was not working. In addition, the right side cab door (where the worker was operating the vehicle) was not closed and latched.

Click here to learn more.

Stay On Top of Fall Hazards

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Falls from elevation hazards are present at almost every job site, and many workers are exposed to these hazards daily.

An unprotected side or edge that is 6’ or more above a lower level should be protected from falls by the use of a guardrail, safety net or personal fall arrest system. These hazardous exposures exist in many forms, and can be as seemingly innocuous as changing a light bulb on a step ladder to something as high risk as connecting bolts on high steel at 200 feet in the air.

Employers should design and use comprehensive fall protection programs to reduce the risk of serious or fatal injuries. At a minimum, employers should 1) identify all fall hazards at a work site; 2) conduct regular safety inspections; 3) train employees in recognizing and avoiding unsafe conditions; and 4) provide employees with appropriate protective equipment.

Again, any worker who may be exposed to a fall hazard should be properly trained. The training should enable each worker to recognize fall hazards and the procedures to follow for minimizing such hazards. The training should be provided by a person qualified through education and/or experience.

Utilize these basic ladder rules as a guide –

  • Inspect ladders before each use
  • Maintain ladders free of oil, grease and other slipping hazards
  • Keep metal parts lubricated
  • Make sure braces, bolts and screws are in place and secure
  • Do not load ladders beyond the manufacturer’s rated capacity
  • Use ladders only for their designed purpose
  • Use ladders only on stable and level surfaces unless secured to prevent accidental movement
  • Set ladder feet parallel to the surface that the ladder rests against
  • Clear areas around the top and bottom of ladders
  • Extend ladders at least 3 feet above the top support
  • Angle the ladder so that the distance from the bottom of the ladder to the wall is one-fourth the ladder’s working length
  • Do not move, shift or extend ladders while in use
  • Use ladders equipped with nonconductive side rails if the worker or the ladder could contact exposed energized electrical equipment
  • Face the ladder when moving up or down
  • Wear shoes with non-skid soles
  • Maintain three points of contact with the ladder — either both feet and one hand or one foot and two hands
  • Do not carry objects or loads that could cause loss of balance or falling

Fall Protection/Hazards Blitz Coming to Construction Companies

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Nearly 20% of Canada’s time-loss injuries are due to slips, trips, and falls (based on statistics from the Association of Workers’ Compensation Boards of Canada, 2011). The majority of falls occur on the same level (commonly called slips and trips), and are often caused by slippery surfaces, uneven ground, unsecured mats, poorly lit or cluttered areas, and unsuitable footwear. The remaining third are falls from an elevated area like a ladder, roof, or stairs.

During July and August, the Ontario Ministry of Labour will focus on Fall Protection & Hazards in the construction industry. The Ministry hopes to protect workers under both the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and the Employment Standards Act (ESA), by enhancing employers’ awareness of their responsibilities. In the event that you receive a blitz, you will want to have proper fall protection equipment and procedures in place. Seton has everything you need, from lanyards and harnesses to custom signage to floor markers and barricades. The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health & Safety (CCOHS) and Ministry of Labour have ample resources on how to reduce risk and stay in compliance. 

Safety News You Can Use

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Avoid worker injuries and lawsuits by keeping workers safe. Learn why a manufacturer and a roofing company were fined after workers suffered severe injuries on the job.

Manufacturer Fined for OHSA Violation: A manufacturer was fined $60,000 for violating the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA). The company was fined after a worker was injured after a press used to bend sheets of metal fell on the worker’s hands, leading to the loss of several fingers.

The company admitted guilt for failing to ensure the press was guarded properly to avoid access to its pinch point.

Roofing Company Fined After Worker Falls: A roofing company was fined $60,000 by the Ministry of Labour after a worker’s lower limbs were injured after a fall from a roof. The approximately 13-feet fall caused the worker to suffer broken heels.

The worker’s travel restraint system was attached to the roof by a single nylon anchor strap not wrapped around a structural member, as directed by an instruction manual. It was screwed into wood and the strap detached from the roof, causing the worker—who was untrained on anchor strap usage—to fall.

The company was not in compliance of Ontario’s construction regulation that requires tools and equipment to be used according to manufacturer instructions. The roofing company was also guilty of failing to protect its workers with the proper information, instruction and supervision needed to keep them safe.