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Preventing Injuries At Low-Rise Residential Construction Sites

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Preventing Injuries At Low-Rise Residential Construction Sites

Ministry of Labour

As part of Ontario's Safe At Work Ontario strategy, Ontario will increase inspections of low-rise residential construction sites between May 1 and 31, 2011. Inspectors will be checking for health and safety hazards in the home building sector to help prevent injuries and deaths in the workplace.


The homebuilding industry is the main source of all construction industry injuries. It has the highest number of fatalities, critical injuries and injuries resulting in lost time at work, along with the associated costs of workers' compensation claims. Common injuries include:

  • falls
  • being struck by objects
  • slipping and overexerting themselves
  • illness or disease from exposure to hazardous chemicals and substances, noise and carbon monoxide

Between 2006 and 2010, 26 workers died at low-rise residential construction sites and 329were critically injured.

Home building is responsible for 96 per cent of all residential construction compensation claims for injuries involving lost time at work. The other four per cent are related to high-rise residential projects (apartments and condominiums).

The five-year average (2005-2009) LTI rate (number of lost-time injuries per 100 workers) for the homebuilding sector was 2.23, compared with the Ontario construction industry five-year average LTI rate of 1.40 -- approximately 45 per cent higher than the entire construction industry average for that same period.

The five most costly types of injuries were:

  • falls to lower level
  • being struck by objects
  • bodily reaction and exertion
  • overexertion, and
  • falls on the same level.


The blitz will target low rise construction sites:

  • with a high incidence of lost-time injuries
  • identified as a high-priority workplace by the ministry
  • known to have highly hazardous conditions, processes and equipment
  • where complaints have been received and there is a history of non-compliance, and
  • those not previously visited by the ministry.

Inspectors will continue to take a "zero tolerance" approach to any breach of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), its regulations and will focus on the following key priorities:

  • Fall protection: Adequate fall protection systems should be in place at all low-rise residential construction sites visited, especially those sites where workers are involved in
  • framing and roofing operations. Workers must also be properly trained in the safe use of fall protection components and equipment.
  • Site excavations and trenching: Workers should be protected against trench or excavation cave-ins and other hazards through the use of sloping, shoring or prefabricated support systems such as trench boxes and shields.
  • Concrete form-setting: Workers must be properly trained in the design, set-up, building and inspection of foundation and basement construction.
  • Overexertion: Training must be provided to ensure that workers know how to properly lift, push and pull materials. Written measures and procedures should be accessible and supervision provided.  Workers should not be engaging in activities that could lead to increased physical demand and awkward postures, resulting in musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs).
  • Safe use of access equipment: Adequate training in the use and maintenance of vehicles, machinery, tools and equipment (such as ramps, stairs, ladders, scaffolds, work platforms and powered elevating work platforms) should be given to all workers and manufacturers' operating manuals and instructions must be available when required by regulation and that written measures and procedures are provided. 
  • Noisy Environments: Proper hearing protection must be worn as needed to protect workers from exposure to excess noise.
  • Hazardous Chemicals:To ensure that:
  • workers are trained in the safe use of chemicals and other toxic substances,
  • supplier material safety data sheets are up to date
  • adequate measures and procedures are in place to control worker exposure, and
  • proper personal protective equipment is being used.
  • New and Young Workers: All new workers must be properly trained and meet minimum age requirements of:
  • 14 years old to work in industrial establishments such as offices, stores, arenas and restaurant serving areas;
  • 15 years old to work in most factories, including restaurant kitchens, automotive service garages, produce and meat preparation areas, laundries, warehouses, and shipping and receiving areas in grocery stores; and
  • 16 years old to work at logging operations or construction projects where people less than 16 years of age may not be present.

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