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Slips, Trips and Falls the Focus of the Ministry of Labour this Season

For those of us who follow updates from the Ministry of Labour know that the Safety Blitz focus this season is Slips, Trips and Falls. As an employer, this means that if an MOL Inspector shows up at your workplace, they will be looking at areas where workers could slip and fall. This may include;

  • Poorly maintained and unsafe use of ladders
  • Falls through openings in floors or other surfaces
  • Falls from equipment, beds of trucks, trailers or loads

In the past few months there seems to have been a spike in workers falling off of trailers or loading platforms. Businesses who require workers to climb up a trailer to tarp or secure a load, need to define how workers are to do those jobs in such a way that if they were to fall, they would not hit the ground.

Evaluating a High Risk Job

Does your business have workers who need to climb up on machinery for maintenance? Do your workers use ladders to get products or materials off of a shelf, or to do other kinds of maintenance work? If so, I would advise you to take a look at those jobs and clearly define how you want those jobs done safely. I commonly observe workers using ladders unsafely in the workplace. Some other unsafe observations may include:

  • Not tying off the ladder to prevent it from slipping. If a ladder is used to gain access to equipment or maybe ceiling heights, workers should secure the ladder off to something as soon as they get up to the work area. This could be as simple as a ratchet strap or rope.
  • Not having someone hold a ladder while a worker is up on the ladder.
  • Not using the right ladder for the job. Not all ladders should be used in a workplace. Those ladders that are a combo step ladder/ extension ladder should not be used in the workplace as the feet on those are not adjustable for the different applications.
  • Ladders that are damaged and should not be used.
  • Workers that are allowed to climb up onto equipment or piles of stock and when they are done they are seen simply jumping down.

 

Create Rules, Communicate and Enforce Them

Your workplace should be assessing the jobs that could be considered as “high risk”. For jobs that would be considered as high risk, clear rules and guidelines for how those jobs should be done need to be implemented. As an example, any job that would have a worker involved in an off the ground task should be considered as high risk. Any height off ground, there is no minimum to consider as high risk. If a worker were to fall from even a few feet high, it could result in very serious injuries.

We cannot depend on general “common sense”, as two people may have drastically different definitions of it. Proper rules & guidelines need to be properly defined and communicated to workers, and more importantly, you must make sure that your rules are enforced by your supervisors.

We understand that depending on the work you do at your workplace, it isn’t always easy to ensure workers are protected when working off of the ground, when there is nowhere to tie off, or no other way of getting off ground task by using equipment such as elevating work platforms or scaffolds etc. You still need to figure this out, if a worker were to slip and fall, your business would be held accountable for those accidents.

In closing, to prevent slips trips and falls at your workplace, my experience is that there is not enough communication and enforcement of how employers want their employees to work safely. Create your safety rules with high risk work in mind, communicate rules to all workers often, and make sure rules are not only enforced but also supported by management.

Where to get help

For more information on slips, trips and falls, you can go to: https://www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/hs/sawo/pubs/fs_falls.php.
The Canadian Center for Occupational Health & Safety, have a poster you can print off and post in your workplace. Go to https://www.ccohs.ca/products/posters/slips_trips/ they also have other posters you can download and print.


Our consultants at Industrial Safety Trainers can help you with the identification of high-risk activities in your workplace, or the development of safe work instructions for high-risk work.
My name is Randy Dignard and I can be reached at randy@istcanada.ca or 800-219-8660 if you have any questions. We believe that we can make a difference by providing the very best training and consulting services in Ontario.
 
Best regards,

Randy Dignard


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