Canadian Contractor

Alec Caldwell   

Working near skylights on flat roofs – the law in Ontario

Canadian Contractor

Few contractors think of the risk of falling through skylights. But every year injuries and deaths occur from this little known hazard

Edited Skylighs commercialMost skylights on flat roofs on commercial/industrial properties are “unguarded.” Literally, they have no guardrails or any other barrier to stop a worker from plunging through them.

In Ontario, it’s illegal to work within 2 metres (6’6″) of unguarded skylights – unless you have your fall arrest gear on.

The new, mandatory Working at Heights Standard training course in Ontario covers little-known details like this. Including the requirements needed if a guardrail has to be constructed or dismantled afterwards.

The regulated 6’6″ distance includes roof edges on all buildings, or anywhere fall hazards can occur to workers above the height of 3 meters or more.


Recently, I observed two workers wearing zero fall arrest systems, who were throwing mechanical debris off the edge of a commercial building. The stuff was crashing to the ground, 25-feet below, just a few feet from parked cars. The site super was watching from down there with his arms folded.

When I asked him about the situation, he played the clueless card: “What’s Working at Heights?”

Well, if something happened to one of his guys up there, he would learn all about it, in court, courtesy of serious charges under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

But it wasn’t just the job supervisor who was liable that day.

The property managers of the building were also responsible for these workers’ safety. So was business owner. It was also the job of the  management company to insure everyone was compliant beforehand.

Remember, it’s hard to prove due diligence in a court of law after an accident. And ignorance of the regulations is no defence.

If you, your employer or any of your sub trades don’t have their Working at Heights training cards, don’t ignore this.

Give us a call and we will answer any questions you may have… Toll free at 1 866 366 2930.

CARAHS is an approved Ontario Ministry of Labour Working at Heights Provider # Pro- 34609 more info

View our approved listing on the Ministry of Labour (Ontario) web site

Featured online Safety e-course: Ariel & Scissor Lift Safety

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1 Comment » for Working near skylights on flat roofs – the law in Ontario
  1. Jeremy W says:

    Hello Alec,

    Just curious where explicitly the OHSA or MOL state the following:

    “In Ontario, it’s illegal to work within 2 metres (6’6″) of unguarded skylights.”

    This is often stated in training material however was wondering what standard this comes from.

    Appreciate your help.

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