Many occupations in Newfoundland and Labrador frequently require employees to work at heights. To ensure their safety, these workers must be protected from potential hazards such as falling. This can be accomplished in a number of ways. Engineering solutions are often the safest way to mitigate this hazard and may include such things as safe access points to elevated areas, walkways with proper guardrails and enclosed safe work areas on platforms.
Often however, there are situations where engineering controls are not practicable. Such situations would require the use of an appropriate fall protection system. A fall protection system consists of specialized personal protective equipment designed either to prevent a fall in the first place (fall restraint) or to bring the worker to a safe and controlled stop after falling (fall arrest). Fall protection equipment includes harnesses, lanyards, lifelines and anchorage points. There are major differences in equipment, configurations and standards depending on the applications for which they are used and training of workers in the use and care of fall protection equipment is necessary.
Most people who work at heights recognize there are certain inherent risks associated with this activity. Of course, the level of risk is dependent on two factors, the probability a fall will occur and if it does, the consequences of that fall. A question often asked is, do many workers get hurt as a result of falls in the workplace? Probably the best way to put that in perspective is to review some recent provincial statistics. From 2002 to 2006, there have been approximately 260 lost time injuries per year resulting from fall from heights in the workplace. During this five-year period these types of injuries decrease by 31 per cent indicating an increased compliance with OHS legislation. In 2006, injuries resulting from falls accounted for five per cent of the total injuries reported in the province however, with a zero tolerance approach to serious violations of OHS legislation, it is anticipated that this number will further decrease as employers and employees recognize the importance of fall protection equipment. These injuries are consistently among the most serious and also among the most expensive in compensation claims.
Occupational Health and Safety legislation respecting safety requirements for work at heights protect and promote the health and safety of workers in this province. Legislation requires fall protection systems for all workers and requires equipment such as safety harnesses to be in accordance with the Canadian Standards Association (CSA). Safety belts are not permitted for use in fall protection. As well, exemptions from fall protection for workers will not be considered.
Employers or employees having questions about the fall protection legislation can contact:
Occupational Health and Safety
To obtain copies of the OHS Act and Regulations contact:
or to obtain copies of the applicable standards for your workplace contact: