Excerpt from the OH&S Canada Magazine

WHITEHORSE — The Yukon Workers’ Compensation Health and Safety Board (YWCHSB) has released its preliminary findings into three falls at two different work sites last year.

One incident, at Marsh Lake on September 8, 2009, involved a construction company supervisor who sustained injuries to the head, ribs and one wrist when he fell four metres from a roof and landed on a wooden deck. The YWCHSB determined the roof had unguarded edges and the supervisor was not wearing a fall arrest system, which was available on site.

The preliminary report notes the supervisor fell when he moved from a dry section of the roof over its apex and stepped on a wet patch, causing him to slip.

The two other incidents occurred at a residential development in Whitehorse. Kurt Dieckmann, occupational health and safety director for the YWCHSB, says both falls involved “small contractors” at buildings “a fair distance apart.”

In the first incident, at about 10 am on August 25, 2009, a construction company supervisor fell almost 10 metres from a metal roof, notes one preliminary report. The supervisor had been supplied and had previously used fall arrest equipment while on the roof, but he had gone up this time “to perform a short-duration task [inserting a missing screw] and failed to don either a travel restraint or fall arrest system,” one report says. It appears he overreached, slipped and fell.

The second fall, on the morning of October 20, 2009, involved a worker, 23, who was installing oriented strand board to the roof. He fell a little more than five metres, sustaining a fractured left wrist.

The investigation report notes that the worker slipped on a sheet of strand board and slid, managing to catch hold of the facia for several seconds before losing his grip and falling to the ground. Again, the roof was unguarded and the worker was not using a fall prevention system, despite one being available.

Dieckmann says compliance orders related to worker training and fall prevention were issued in both cases.

The Yukon’s Occupational Health and Safety Regulations state a worker must wear fall protection when “engaged in any work on a roof that a) is three metres (10 feet) or more above the ground or other safe working level; b) has a slope of 2 vertical to 3 horizontal or steeper, or c) has an unguarded edge.”

My opinion

‘Fall Protection’ MUST become mandatory at all work sites or people are going to continue to die or be severely injured. It has been my experience that there is not enough being done to ensure worker safety. The MOL has a new standard for working at heights but still it is in the enforcement of the issue will things change.

The ‘Construction’ regulations 213/91 in Ontario, still does ensure training as part of the ‘due diligence’ by employers. I believe that the Ontario government needs to change the wording to prescribe mandatory training to commit to the competency standard we have specifically laid out here. Only then, along with strict enforcement will things change.

By the way, I have spotted, over the past few months, guys either not tied off or tied off at the wrong places on EWPs. This is a no-no. Mind you, the owner/operators are not being told otherwise.

Remember – In Ontario, “ALL Accidents are Preventable”

HRS Group Inc. has a great team that can help you with all your health and safety needs including ‘Fall Protection’ and Working at Heights’. Contact Deborah toll free at 1-877-907-7744 or locally at 705-749-1259.

We can also be reached at info@hrsgroup.com

‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.

Daniel L. Beal
CHSEP – Foundation Level
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.

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