Blog Post #383 – Jury Weighs In On ‘Fall Protection’

Excerpt from the OH&S Canada magazine

A coroner’s jury probing the death of an Ontario construction worker in 2006 has made a series of recommendations meant to enhance fall protection.

Michael Suto, 22, was working on a roof at a job site in Innisfil, Ontario when he fell, receiving fatal injuries. Although Suto was trained and certified in fall protection, notes a summary from coroner Maarthen Reinders, he appears to have left his safety belt in a nearby garage. As such, he was not attached to a safety rope at the time of the fall.

Suto received blunt impact trauma to the head. Suffering progressive cerebral swelling, he died within a week.

The coroner’s jury issued five recommendations designed to address fall prevention in construction, specifically, and construction safety generally.

Among other things, the jury recommended the Construction Safety Association of Ontario (CSAO) ensure fall protection certification cards periodically expire and require re-testing; and an outside party handle the trainer certification course to ensure standardization. As for the Ministry of Labour (MOL), it should ensure a notice of project is linked to each building permit application, and is forwarded to the MOL.

Reinders’s summary notes that, at present, employers can deliver a fall protection course to their employees without any special training using the CSAO’s “Basics of Fall Protection.” The coroner states, “trainers often base their teaching upon their personal experience, potentially leading to great variation in the approach used in discussing the material to be covered.”

Roy O’Rourke, executive vice-president and general manager of the CSAO, acknowledges that the course allows for some variability. O’Rourke adds, however, that provincial legislation requires a worker “to be trained on the specific hazards — which would include falls — at every site they go to.”

MOL inspectors should quiz workers about fall prevention when they visit work sites, O’Rourke suggests. “I think it’s more important to answer the right questions regarding fall protection than to show a card and [have] the inspectors walk on by because you have a card.”

My opinion

Fall Protection has come a long way since this accident. Still, the Minister of Labour has given his opinion that we need to improve health and safety at the construction workplace. There have been a suspected large number of ‘Fall’ deaths in the past year and the MOL has been given the direction to add ‘Fall Protection’ to the list of blitzes in the upcoming calendar year.

Ensure your company is compliant.

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

‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.

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

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