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Spot The Safety Violation: Ladders on Roofs—a Risky Combination

This worker is in a precarious position. What should he be using to protect himself?

Many workers are injured or killed in falls from heights. In fact, according to CCOHS, about 60,000 Canadian workers are injured each year in falls. To try to prevent such injuries, the OHS laws generally require workers to use fall protection when working at elevations above three metres.

The worker in this picture, which was sent in by a reader, looks like he’s more than three metres above the ground. And there’s no guardrail in place to prevent him from falling. So where is his fall protection?

And to make matters worse, the worker is on a ladder on a slanted roof top. Although it appears that a board was placed to prevent the ladder from sliding, this set-up is still far from ideal. After all, one of the basic tenets of safe portable ladder use is that ladders should be placed on flat, stable surfaces.

6 Elements of a Fall Protection Plan

To protect your workers from falls from heights, implement a fall protection plan that includes these six key elements:

  1. The fall hazards at the workplace;
  2. The fall protection systems to be used, making sure to follow the hierarchy of fall protection equipment;
  3. The anchors to be used;
  4. The procedures to be used to assemble, maintain, inspect, use and disassemble the fall protection systems;
  5. Confirmation that the clearance distances below the work area are sufficient to prevent a worker from hitting the ground or an object or level below the work area, if applicable; and
  6. The rescue procedures to be used in an emergency.

Your fall protection plan should be in writing and available at the worksite to which it applies. In addition, you should train workers on the plan. Use this Fall Protection Plan Template to develop your plans.

The OHS Insider has other information and resources on fall protection, including: