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How To Prevent Falls In The Workplace

Have you ever fallen at work or seen someone fall at work? Learning how to prevent falls in the workplace is actually a daily and frequently asked question that should be thought about often. This week, May third to May seventh of 2021 is Falls Awareness Week. We need this awareness because although you come to us for training, as soon as you leave our doors – safety is up to you and your employer. Did you know that falls are the leading cause of injury, disability, and death in Ontario’s workplaces? Read on to find out what more you can do to protect yourself and others always, and how you can further encourage safety in the workplace starting today.

Key Fall Prevention Tips for Ontario’s Construction Sector

For 2021’s week-long campaignthe Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development has collaborated with the Infrastructure Health and Safety Association (IHSA) to provide key fall prevention resources for Ontario’s construction sector. In case you didn’t know, construction is where most fall deaths and injuries occur. The IHSA is providing materials in the form of newsletters, webinars, and podcasts. 

Why Do We Need Fall Prevention Awareness Week?

While you should already be having safety talks with your team, and receiving frequent instruction and safety reminders, Falls Awareness Week is an opportunity to bring attention to the severity of falls at work. It encourages virtual safety talks about how to prevent, mitigate, and address fall hazards in the workplace. This can be done by stopping work for 15 minutes from the 3rd to 7th of May, and holding a virtual safety talk about preventing falls in the workplace.

By clicking the above link, you’ll find valuable resources on fall prevention in construction. Their free, on-demand webinars include topics such as fall prevention and working at heights (WAH) in residential construction, safe ladder use, trip hazards on job sites, and safety tips for using temporary stairs.

Helpful Resources Provided By The Ministry Too!

The Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development has also developed a downloadable Promoter and Supporter Toolkit to help organizations build social media content to support Falls Awareness Week. The kit contains two pages of fall statistics in construction that can be used to support key messaging on the importance of fall prevention in construction workplaces. All of these materials are available on the IHSA Falls Awareness Week page.

We encourage all workplaces to participate virtually in this important campaign and thank you for your ongoing support in keeping Ontario’s workers safe.

More information about Falls Awareness Week and how you can participate can be found on the IHSA Falls Awareness Week page.

Falls Awareness Week Schedule

Day 1 – Monday, May 3 Kick-Off (General fall-related safety hazards)

Day 2 – Tuesday, May 4 Falls from Ladders

Day 3 – Wednesday, May 5  Slips, Trips, and Falls from Stairs

Day 4 – Thursday, May 6 Falls from Roofs and Heights

Day 5 – Friday, May 7 Falls from Scaffolding and Suspended Work Platforms

How to Prevent Falls in the Workplace Day 1 – 3 Recap

Supervisors have that obligation to reasonably make sure workers are protected. Focusing on falls this week, there are five major things we can do, things we can say, and ways we can show how to prevent falls. By leading by example, supervisors can decrease falls within the workplace. Here they are broken down into steps:

Important Questions Supers Can Ask Workers

Do you know how many people died from falls last year?

Ask workers if they know how many Ontario workers have died from falls within the Construction industry from the last year. In 2020, it was reported that eight died. One is too many, and for that reason, workers need to know what the problem is that causes falls. 

Are you using Guardrails?

Remind workers to check for missing guardrails, because it’s the best form of fall protection to keep workers away from the edge. Look for missing guard rails on scaffolds and floor edges.

Can you check for floor and roof openings?

Falling backward into a floor or roof opening happens but can be prevented when these openings are blocked off, guarded, and warning signs are positioned in an easy-to-read place. Fasten a sturdy cover over the opening and write DANGER! DO NOT REMOVE! DO NOT LOAD! on it with bright spray paint or install guardrails around it. Always put a sign up to warn of danger.

Can you spot unsafe ladder use?

A lot of injuries involve ladders, especially during roofing and other residential construction projects. Look for workers trying to rush their job, and for those who are possibly cutting corners or doing something unsafe. Everyone’s actions together on a job site can be a chain reaction for danger. Don’t lean outside the rails, be careful when working off a ladder, and especially be cautious when carrying something or climbing.

During this safety talk, what more would you like to learn?

There are free safety talks available on the IHSA’s website, as well as some on the Build with Safety’s youtube channel.It’s important to talk to workers about the specific hall hazard and fall protection equipment used on your site. Walk the site and spot with your crew the hazards and discuss them! Explain to the workers what is expected of them.

Five Things To Tell Workers

Knowing what to tell you workers in regards to safety gets easier the more you practice and if you have a system or plan in place already. It’s recommended to have a job safety analysis, a fall protection work plan, and to give workers safety talks on fall hazards that you find on your site. Putting up posters can help with this mission, as can stickers and other visuals. These steps and questions could save lives.

5 Ways To Supervise
  1. Show that you mean it.
    Your actions demonstrate your commitment to fall prevention. Inspect your site every day. Point out the hazards. Suggest safer ways to do a job.
  2. Train and inform your workers.
    Show them the hazards and how to deal with them. Train them what they need to know and be available for questions.
  3. Plan your work.
    Ahead of time examine the job site and list what the hazards are and what training is required. Tell your workers everything possible they need to know to do the job right.
  4. Enforce the rules.
    Keep an eye on everyone and have an open-door policy with your team so no one is afraid to speak up. Have a system in place to report near misses and make the rules known.
  5. Reward Good Behavior.
    Catch workers doing a safe job and reward them, either in private or publicly with gift cards or kind words. Encourage safety!

Falls Prevention Week Conclusion

There are so many resources available for workers, supervisors, and all employers. Just head over to the IHSA’s website, and you’ll find PDFs, webinars, and podcasts. We hope that this article was handy and that you will take safety as seriously as it is. Too many people die because of corners cut and jobs done too fast. We do not want that for you and your family. Stay safe out there, and give us a call any time or comment below. We’re here for you Barrie!! Have a safe falls awareness week.

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