Canadian Contractor

Only the lonely

You really are lonely if you are working at more than 10 feet above the ground without Fall Protection Equipment. You are totally at risk.

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January 29, 2013 by Alec Caldwell

This describes the individual I discovered working alone on roof trusses this week during my regular job site visits. Here he was working more than 25 feet up without any safety equipment.

Ontario legislation states everyone working at heights of 10 feet (3 metres) or more is required to wear Fall Protection Equipment. This equipment includes: fully body harness, lanyard, rope grab, lifeline and anchor point. These items all have to be connected and installed correctly, as required by regulations and which CARAHS demonstrates at their Fall Protection Awareness courses.       

The dangers this individual faced were immense had he fallen. Who would help him if he became injured, trapped or knocked unconscious? Would someone see it happen? How could he reach someone for help? That’s assuming he was not killed by the fall.

How about the company who hired him? Let’s assume he fell and was seriously injured or died because of his injuries. This company would then face investigation by the Ministry of Labour and can they prove due diligence in order to protect themselves from prosecution for failing to protect that worker?

Do you know your responsibilities? If not, maybe its time you found out. Remember you are responsible for the safety of every person who steps on to your job site!

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Alec Caldwell

Alec Caldwell

Alec Caldwell is the Founder of CARAHS, a Health & Safety Organization.

We are approved providers by the Ministry of Labour (Ontario) to teach Working at Heights Training (Pro#34609)

Visit the Ministry of Labour’s web site to view our listing

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2 Comments » for Only the lonely
  1. Peter says:


    Putting the facts of this situation in print make it sound even more foolish than it is.

    Literally EVERY sub trade I deal with has to be either reminded or forced to comply with the harness requirements on sites. My own carpenters always comply as this is our policy now (after being caught by the MOL!). My point to roofers, masons etc. is if we can carry plywood and sheet roof’s with the harnesses on, you can lay shingles, or install a chimney or a vent flashing.

    I find it hard to believe how people working for wages, paid by the hour, are so willing to disregard their own safety because “it takes too long” to put up the required gear and work in it. Ridiculous! Everywhere I go I see sites with people working in unsafe conditions. They really don’t understand the implications and liabilities involved if an accident occurs.

    My discussion ending comment to the non compliers now is “wear it or go home.” case closed.

    Thanks for shedding some light on an on going problem.


    • Robert Koci says:

      You may find it “hard to believe,” but I can remember being very daring up on roofs in winter when I was framing. It was because I was young and fearless and it was the thing I liked about the job!! You take away that adrenaline rush and you take away the thing that attracted me to the work in the first place. I think we have to promote safety within the context of the fact that there is an excitement to young men about construction that INCLUDES danger. I am not advocating we be reckless. I am suggesting that when we don’t understand why anyone would put themselves in danger that’s our failing and we need to work on our misunderstanding in order to find how to reduce tragic accidents.