Fall Protection Goes into Effect in Canada

Following nearly seven years of research, analysis, consultation and evaluation, amendments to fall protection legislation in New Brunswick (Canada) came into effect in the New Year.
According to Canadian OH&S News,the changes, in effect as of Jan. 1, impact the General Regulation (91-191) of the provincial Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA). (WCxKit)
The amendments include: preference to systems that do not allow a worker to fall, such as guardrails and travel restraints; increased instruction and training requirements; new provisions for roofing and weatherproofing sectors; reference to new and updated Canadian Standards Association guidelines; and, additional responsibilities for building owners to ensure anyone conducting work on their behalf complies with the legislation.
"In the area of fall protection, we felt we werent keeping up with current standards," said Richard Blais, director of the chief compliance office at WorkSafeNB. "We felt there was not enough substance in our current legislation and we needed to enhance that."
One of the major themes WorkSafeNB wanted to address was implementation of a 'hierarchy of intervention, Blais noted. "Preventing people from falling would be one of the principles that we would embed in our new amendments versus allowing people to fall and then having to rescue them. Quite frankly, once you set yourself up, I think people work a lot faster and certainly theyre a lot safer when you have guardrails than when you have fall arrest or safety monitors.”
Blais also noted that the provision for a control zone safety monitor, who helps ensure workers dont fall, had existed before the amendments, "but it was lacking in specificity in terms of what employers should do." Calling a control zone "a wobbly line," Blais notes the amendments now require a fall protection code of practice for those working from a height of 7.5 meters or more and when working within a control zone with a safety monitor.
"Keep in mind that's not really… fall protection," he argued. "You're not going there to catch people before they fall you're just trying to warn them before."
Another key amendment is the clarification of responsibilities for building owners to ensure that anyone conducting work on their behalf complies with the legislation.
Even though the OHSA addresses the general duty provisions of owners with respect to health and safety, WorkSafeNB believes there was not "enough teeth" in the act. "We put in a lot of emphasis on responsibilities of building owners to ensure the legislation itself was being followed by the contractors that they hire," Blais stated.
Roy Silliker, general manager of the New Brunswick Construction Safety Association in Miramichi, stated that the amendments are "nothing new" for the construction industry. "The industry has been using the standards [that are] in the new regulation for quite some time now," he says. (WCxKit)
Silliker also notes that WorkSafeNB will be conducting information sessions across the province in February. He adds that the association was in the process of reviewing its fall protection awareness course, but has decided to hold off on putting out the course until the consultations are complete.

Author Robert Elliott
, executive vice president, Amaxx Risks Solutions, Inc. has worked successfully for 20 years with many industries to reduce Workers Compensation costs, including airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing. See www.LowerWC.com for more information.  Contact:  Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com or 860-553-6604.

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