The following statement was released on April 3 by Minister of Labour Kevin Flynn, Chief Prevention Officer Ron Kelusky and Infrastructure Health & Safety Association President and CEO Enzo Garritano:
In the past few months, there has been a spike in workplace fatalities involving falls from heights. The families of these workers have been needlessly devastated by the loss of their loved ones.
As long as one family’s son or daughter fails to come home because of an incident at the workplace, we have more work to do. Workplaces should redouble their efforts to ensure that workers are safe, and that everyone understands their rights and responsibilities on the job.
In 2015, Ontario introduced mandatory training for working at heights. Since then, about half a million workers have received the training. The Ministry of Labour is reminding employers and workers to continue to take this training seriously, and to apply it, and to take refresher courses as they could one day save a life.
Ontario’s workplaces are among the safest in Canada, but tragedies like this remind us that everyone needs to take responsibility for workplace safety so that everyone can go home to their families at the end of the workday.
Employers should be vigilant when addressing workplace hazards, and must provide proper training. Workers should also be aware of their right to refuse unsafe work, use their equipment properly and to report any hazards they see.
The start of 2018, in both the construction sector and other sectors in Ontario, has been alarming. Employers, supervisors and workers should make it their highest priority to pause and review all work practices, especially those involving high risk activities like working at heights.
Only by working together, including the support of the employer, oversight of competent supervisors and properly trained workers using safety measures each and every time, will all workers return home safely.
Always remember to exercise caution, be vigilant and take care of each other in the workplace. Let’s get back to making Ontario the safest place to work.