Falls from heights are a leading cause of serious injuries for workers in the residential construction industry.
That’s why WorkSafeBC is stepping up its number of safety inspections at residential construction sites throughout the province as part of its Stay On Top Enforcement Blitz. WorkSafeBC officers are looking at fall protection, walkways, ladders, planning, and supervision. Their goal is to do 100 additional inspections each month (from June 25 to November 3) and their data will be used to develop safety solutions.
I checked in with WorkSafeBC to see how it’s going – and received some early numbers, as of Aug. 1. During that time, 30 Prevention officers wrote 133 inspection reports that contain 335 corrective orders. The top 7 orders address:
* Fall protection
* Employer general duties (instruct, train, supervise)
* Compliance reports
* Written fall protection plans
* Stairways equipped with handrails
* Hierarchy of fall protection (guardrails)
* Floor and roof openings
In other regions…
A similar initiative is underway on Prince Edward Island – where on July 3 they started a “a two year, zero tolerance campaign to ensure workplaces are using proper equipment to prevent falls,” according to this CBC story.
PEI also added new training requirements to their fall protection regulation on June 9, 2012.
Bill Reid, director of PEI’s OHS division, told the CBC officers are visiting workplaces across the province to look at the safety of people working at heights.
“What it means for people that are using the fall protection is that when our officer does come on site, if there is violations to the fall protection regulations, or the scaffolding regulations, or workers working at height without protection, we are taking it very seriously,” Reid said, quoted by CBC. “And there will be a lot more stop work orders and potential prosecutions if the violations are flagrant.”
In Ontario, safety inspectors will be focusing on supervision at construction sites in September and October as part of their annual Fall Safety Blitz. The Ontario Ministry of Labour reports that “since 2008, ministry inspectors have conducted more than 345,000 field visits, 43 inspection blitzes and issued more than 560,000 compliance orders in Ontario workplaces.”
In the US, the Stop Construction Falls campaign – is supported by the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE), OSHA, and NIOSH.
The UK’s Shattered Lives campaign looks at falls from height in construction, as well as slip and fall risks in other industries. More information from them is available in Falls and trips in construction – Working at height.
Also see WorkSafeBC’s Stay On Top resources