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According to the Association of Workers’ Compensation Boards of Canada, 43,435 lost time claims were made in 2020 due to falls, including 62 deaths. With such high costs in human and material losses, fall protection requirements are prevalent in federal and provincial acts, regulations, and codes.
For example, sections 12.01 to 12.09 of Canadian Occupational Safety and Health Regulations, SOR/86-304, state that there must be a fall protection system in place if working on a structure, vehicle, or ladder of three meters (3m) or more, and less than 3m if the surface onto which a person might fall presents a greater risk of injury than a solid, flat surface.
Above and below 3m covers much ground. The facility safety manager's challenge is identifying and addressing the hazards with smart safety solutions and fall protection equipment.
Workers accessing the roof are at considerable risk, the most obvious being an unprotected roof edge. Yet, there are other hazards that start with access to the roof. The transition point between a ladder and the roof should have a self-closing safety gate at the access point flanked by protective guardrails. A roof hatch further requires safety railings and a self-closing safety gate.
A skylight is literally defined as a hole in the roof. Skylight railings and skylight screens provide skylight fall protection so that workers do not fall through the roof.
Piping, ductwork, and changes in roof levels present trip hazards that need to be navigated. “Step over” platforms —equipped with railings—allow workers to traverse these and other obstructions.
“Collective” and “personal” are the essential types of roof fall protection where there is a danger of falling from the roof edge.
Once in place, collective fall protection requires no training and hardly a thought. A roof perimeter safety guardrail system is a prime example of how a railing system protects people “collectively.”
Personal fall protection or fall arrest is required where collective systems are not possible or practical, such as in confined spaces or high slopes. In such cases, horizontal lifelines provide freedom of movement and fall arrest. Body belts, harnesses, and lanyards attached to a roof anchor are other types of travel restraint systems that mitigate a fall. A portable roof anchor system offers flexibility while on the roof.
A demarcation system is often found on the rooftops of construction sites where a collective system is not yet installed. It is comprised of sturdy uprights and clearly marked warning lines to cordon off areas for access.
Guardrails for stairways, mezzanines, machinery, loading docks, and other areas provide compliant fall protection throughout the facility. Safety railing systems built from modular pipe fittings offer strength, durability, and the capability to modify or add to the system based on changing needs (e.g., relocate machinery, equipment, and inventory, building expansion, or installation of a modular building).
High-visibility demarcation systems are not only valuable on the roof. They also provide fall protection at the ground level during construction and maintenance projects where there are trip and fall hazards.
For access to working heights and hard-to-reach areas, mobile work platforms that have anti-slip steps and platforms plus safety railings enable workers to perform their tasks with a sense of ease.
The Association of Workers’ Compensation Boards of Canada further reports that for 2020, the Manufacturing and Construction industries had the second (32,380) and third (23,682) most lost time claims, combining for more than 22% of the 253,009 total claims. They are inherently dangerous trades.
Yet, education, analysis, and proper action can help prevent your business or facility from becoming a statistic.
What experts look for when performing a rooftop safety audit and how to improve worker safety with solutions that exceed OH&S compliance.