Buildsafe Construction Safety Services Inc.

Construction Death Stats


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New Set Safety Fines

Hot off the press,


A substancial increase in the amount of set fines an inspector can issue on site. Set fines are a relatively new thing in the past 10 years or so. Up to now there were 16 set fines from 2 schedules. Now that has increased to 179 set fines from 4 schedules.


I have condensed everything that has reference or impact to typical construction and for your reference, I will include the link to the Ontario Justice website where the schedules are listed. Schedules; 66.2, 67, 67.1 and 67.5


MOL Set fines for Construction.pdf


Link to Schedules of fines

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4 Hour Working at Heights Classes

I hear 4 and 5 hour working at heights classes are sneaking back in the training system.


You have been doing this for years, you know it all, right? I know its boring, or, these people weren't meant to be in a class room for a full day. Some of the comments I have heard by some trainers who cave to workers pressuring them to speed up the class and get them out early.


In reality many workers have never been properly trained about; guardrails, floor covers, travel restraint, what is a fall restriction system, how to properly wear and adjust a harness, how high does the tie off anchor have to be to make sure I don't hit the ground or floor below? These are all good questions and ones that need to be covered in working at heights training in order to be successful and reduce the number of construction deaths.


Case in point, I had an experience several years ago on a high rise project, where I saw most of the experienced workers not wearing their harness properly. After some encouragement, I finally convinced the site supervisor to shut down the job for 1/2  hour and allow me to perform a safety talk for all workers on site, regarding how to don a harness. With approx 60 workers in attendance, some new and a couple of workers who had been working in construction for over 50 years. The first consensus among most workers was, what is this guy going to tell me that I don't already know? Well to my surprise after the safety talk, two of the 50 year workers approached me, shook my hand and thanked me for the instructions, they said, "in 50 years in construction, nobody ever showed them how to properly don a harness."


I think If the trainer makes the session dynamic and steers away from boring, workers can handle sitting for a whole day on a relevant topic that will help prevent injury or possibly kill them..

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AWP's Workers Now Must Be "Prevented from Ejection"

November 2015's

New Construction Regulations Section 148(1)d now requires all workers to be prevented from ejection while in an Aerial Work Platform (AWP).


In the past, typically the worker would be provided with a 6' lanyard to attach to the designated tie off point, usually somewhere near the floor of the AWP. The 6' lanyard would allow the worker a bit of movement in the lift. However if the worker was thrown out of the lift, a 6' lanyard is long enough to allow ejection from the AWP.


Therefore the construction industry must adopt a new method(s) of tying off while in a AWP's.


I think one easy quick solution to the issue is Self Retracting Lanyard's (SRL's).


SRL's come in a variety of sizes and configurations and are built to lock up when a sudden motion is detected such as falling. SRL's will almost always lock up within a maximum of 600 mm of lead out, and usually less. As a worker is about to go over the rails of an AWP, the unit will normally lock up before the worker is over the rails, that is provided the worker is not standing on the rails!


Always tie off to the designated tie off point within your AWP, if you cannot find it, consult the manual. FYI Operators manauls must be provided under the construction regulations. Some lifts designated for use inside industrial plants may not have tie off points. If you are on a construction site, let the rental company know, so they send you the right lift with proper anchor points.

Contractors must research new methods and write new procedures to match the new regulations.

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All Fall Protection Training Prior to April 2015 Expires

To clarify the April 1, 2017 Ministry of Labour (MOL) deadline for Working at Heights training for construction workers.


As of April 1 2015 all Working at Heights Training providers in Ontario must obtain MOL Approval in order to train Working at Heights.


Prior to April of 2015 there were no* MOL approved working at heights training providers, therefore any training cards dated prior to April 1, 2015 are no longer valid. (* with the small exception of the 5 training providers who were approved in March 2015)


Employers were given 2 years to obtain new MOL approved training and that deadline is April , 2017.


If you or your workers were trained in 2015 go to the MOL list of approved trainers and if your training provider was registered prior to the date on your card, you have taken approved training. Now you just have to update it every three years.


BuildSafe was approved by the Ministry of Labour to train Working at Heights on July 17, 2015. Therefore under MOL regulations any cards issued in March of 2015 or prior, all expire on March 31, 2017, regardless of any expiry date that is on the card.


Hopefully this clarifys the MOL Working at Heights deadline of April 1, 2017

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Step Stools

As many; Framers, Drywaller's, Tapers and Painters know 2 & 3 rung step stools have been a point of contention by MOL inspectors for many years.


In 2015, the ladder regulations were revamped and in November a new definition of a 'step stool' has appeared for the first time.


“step stool” means a self supporting, portable, fixed or foldable ladder, not adjustable in length, and having,

(a) a height of 800 millimetres or less, excluding side rails, if any, above the top cap,

(b) flat steps, but no pail shelf, and

(c) a ladder top cap that can be stood or stepped on;


In my opinion this new definition should clear up any confusion about use of 2 & 3 step stools that are under 800mm and where the manufacturer allows standing on the top.


Remember section 93(3) if you are following the manufacturer's instructions on any piece of equipment, there is no reason you should have to worry about MOL charges. Should charges happen anyway, you may have a valid defence, provided you were working in adherence with the manufacturer's instructions.


As seen in Werner Ladder manufactures picture (borrowed from thei Website), it would appear to me that they do allow to stand on the top of  their 'work stand'. Also they list the maximum step height on the 2 step as 1'11".


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Read The Words Carefully

What I am referring to is construction regulation 26.1(2)


(2) Despite subsection (1), if it is not practicable to install a guardrail system as that subsection requires, a worker shall be adequately protected by the highest ranked method that is practicable from the following ranking of fall protection methods:



Practicable is the word that allot of people are a mis-interpreting for practical.


Practical means; sensible, useful, easiest for the situation,


Practicable simply means 'that is possible'


Therefore in the regulations we cannot simply choose the easiest or most practical method on the list, we must choose the highest ranked method that is possible regardless of difficulty, if guardrails can be installed, they must be installed.

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WAH One Year In

I am sure everyone can say that was an experience! One year in since mandatory MOL approvals for Working at Heights. Who thought there would only be 75 private training providers and 16 in house providers. Recent released MOL numbers indicate 106,000 workers had been trained in the approved Working at Heights training program since April 1 2015. So now the question becomes; how long before we reap the rewards with lower construction deaths?


Although the training is now better than it was prior to April 1 2015, the main key to reducing construction deaths is a shift is attitude and culture.


Unfortunately one reason I don't believe that everyone has bought in to the working at heights philosophy because that don't believe they will ever die on a construction site! Until everyone knows a dead construction worker, things will not improve, and that is sad.


A second reason that will make it tough to reduce number's that I am hearing of 4 hour courses sneaking back in again, reverting back to the old days. You cannot cover the 57 learning objectives in 4 hours and it is strictly against MOL rules. And some of these 4 hour classes are coming from people who have been approved to train Working at Heights by the safety associations. Who is monitoring the 3rd party trainers? The agency who gave approval is supposed to be monitoring, but I haven't heard of any audits yet, have you?

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Project Manager Sentenced to 3 1/2 years in Jail

Many of you are aware of the accident that occurred on Christmas eve 2009 where 4 workers fell to their death and a 5th worker shattered his spine and broke his legs along with other injuries. Another piece of the puzzle came together on Jan 11, 2016 when the project manager was sentenced to 3 1/2 years in Jail for his inaction. This sentence should sent a message to the construction industry that management does have OHS liability.


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Metron Conviction Summary

Metron Construction was cited for criminal negligence causing the worker’s deaths and originally fined $200,000 plus a 25% victim surcharge, which was based on the fact that the fine was over three times the company’s most recent profitable year. Upon filing an appeal by the crown attorney, the appeals court found that the original fine was insufficient, and the company’s fine was increased to $750,000 plus a 25% victim surcharge.


The owner of the construction business Joel Swartz was personally fined for four (4) violations under the OHSA and Construction Regulations, and issued a $90,000 fine plus a 25% victim surcharge.


The scaffolding company Swing n Scaff was fined $350,000 plus a 25% victim surcharge.


The director of the swing stage company, Patrick Deschamps was fined $50,000 plus a 25% victim surcharge.


Total Fines $1,240,000 plus 25% victim surcharge Totalling $1.55 Million


The project manager, who was on site at the time and played a direct part in the accident, was also charged.  The project manager was convicted of 4 counts of criminal negligence causing death and 1 count of criminal negligence causing bodily harm, and was sentenced to 3½ years in Jail.


Both surviving workers and the family of one of the deceased workers currently have a multi million dollar lawsuit against all involved including the Ministry of Labour for incompetent inspections.

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Metron Details

This accident involves a tragedy that happened at an apartment building balcony restoration project on Kipling Ave in Toronto.

Metron construction who had been in business for 23 years was removing and replacing old balconies that had deteriorated. To access the balcony face the contractor was using a hanging swing stage system that had been rented from a company in Ottawa.


On December 24, 2009, six (6) employees (five (5) workers and a site supervisor) were on the swing stage that the contractor intended to be typically used by only two (2) people even though a typical swing stage of this size should be able to take much more than 2 people. All workers were wearing a harness; only two (2) lifelines were available. One of the workers was properly attached.  A second worker was attached, but not correctly. After handing tools and materials to workers on the swing stage, the project manager (a seventh person) asked the site supervisor ‘about more lifelines’, the supervisor told him ‘not to worry about it’. While the project manager was accessing the swing stage from a balcony, the platform broke in two. The project manager was still hanging onto the balcony and managed to pull himself to safety. When the platform split, five of the six workers fell 13 stories to the ground below. Four were killed instantly and the fifth, who was not tied off correctly, survived although he sustained catastrophic injuries involving broken legs and a shattered spine. The one uninjured worker, who was tied off properly, was pulled to safety by the project manager after the swing stage collapsed.


The swing stage was not properly marked with the maximum capacity load allowance, serial numbers, identifiers or labels (as required by health and safety legislation and industry practice). The stages also arrived without any instructions, user manuals or other product information, such as design drawings prepared by an engineer as required by OHSA s. 139(5).


The resulting forensic examination of the swing stage platform determined that a significant cause of the collapse was defective design and welding by the manufacturer. If properly designed and constructed, a swing stage of this size should have been able to hold 1,800 kilograms which was more than the load weight at the time of the collapse. At the time of the accident the swing stage had been in use for over two (2) months.


The Ministry of Labour had issued stop work orders against the contractor at this site at least two times in the months leading up to the accident. The first stop work order was issued in October for the following reasons: 1) the production of drawings for the roof anchors and the last annual inspection report were not available onsite; 2) failure to provide proper access to the swing stage; 3) failure to ensure that the wire mesh was "securely fastened" from the floor to the top of the guardrail on the swing stages; and 4) failure to install additional guardrails. The citation issues were addressed, and the stop order was lifted the next day.


A second stop order was issued on December 17, one week before the accident.  This stop order involved an unrelated swing stage located at the garage door of the same building. This citation was resolved and the stop-work order was lifted the same day. Between October 20 and December 17 the Ministry of Labour had conducted 9 field visits to this site.


Additionally, a toxicological analysis determined that at the time of the accident, three of the four deceased victims, including the site supervisor, “had marijuana in their system at a level consistent with having recently ingested the drug.”  Evidence also revealed that the constructor stood to get a $50,000 bonus if the job was completed by the end of December.


Shortly after the accident the project manager asked the uninjured worker to lie and say he was not on the swing stage when it collapsed, and to claim that he had received a copy of the company’s health and safety manual prior to the accident, even though the worker could not read the English document. It was noted that the deceased workers ranged from 25 to 40 years old, they from Latvia, Uzbekistan, and Ukraine and that all of the workers had limited English language skills. It was further noted that the employer provided approximately 30 minutes of training on how to operate the swing stage, and failed to ensure that the workers were trained in a language that was understood.

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Kevin Carey
October 6, 2019
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