Fall-Protection Systems for Vehicles - 932-1-IPG-064

Effective Date: March 2004

Issue

Under the revised section 12.10 of the Canada Occupational Health and Safety Regulations (COHSR) issued pursuant to Part II of the Canada Labour Code , the employer is required to provide protection from falling to any person working on a vehicle above 2.4 meters from the nearest permanent safe level or above any moving parts of machinery or any other surface that could cause injury to a person on contact.

Questions

  1. What should a health and safety officer (HSO) consider when verifying compliance with section 12.10 of the Regulations in relation to vehicles?
  2. What is the process for dealing with reports to the regional health and safety officer (RHSO)?

Background

In response to a Court ruling, subsection 12.10(1) of the COHSR was revised in October, 2002, to explicitly include vehicles in its application. This change included a requirement for employers to conduct a job safety analysis (JSA) and submit a report to a RHSO where it is not reasonably practicable to provide fall-protection on vehicles where it is required.

The protection of employees working on vehicles at heights requires knowledge of the vehicles and work site conditions and may include conditions difficult to control because of factors such as:

  • type and size of load;
  • load securement requirements;
  • vehicle type;
  • customer pick-up/delivery locations not under the control of the employer;
  • external factors such as weather, remoteness and yard conditions.

The risks associated with falling hazards and the need for fall-protection equipment may vary depending on how employees are required to perform their jobs in conditions that are difficult to control.

The principles for providing fall protection for workers on vehicles are the same as for any other work site. These are listed in their order of preference, namely:

  1. Eliminate the need to work at heights.

    This is the best and most reliable means to prevent any risk of injury due to falls from heights.

  2. Modify the work site or work method to make working at heights safe.

    Locations such as terminals, inspection stations and bulk loading/unloading facilities could be equipped with raised platforms or other similar systems that allow workers to perform their duties without having to climb onto the vehicle.

  3. Put safety systems in place to guard the workers from falling.

    Equip vehicles with walking platforms, guardrails as well as access ladders that allow work to be performed safely on the vehicle, while it is stationary, without the need for workers to wear personal protective equipment.

  4. Provide personal fall-protection equipment.

    There are advantages and disadvantages to each of these options and the nature of vehicle operations may not lend itself to one choice only in all conditions. However, employers and employees should be fully aware of the issues involved with each of these approaches.

Question 1

What should a health and safety officer consider when verifying compliance with section 12.10 of the Regulations in relation to vehicles?

The HSO will confirm whether or not a report has been made to the RHSO. They will then verify compliance with either 12.10(1) or with the instructions and training described by the employer in their report to the RHSO.

Due to the nature of vehicle configurations, exposure to variable conditions, and other factors as described in the Background portion of this document, HSOs should not attempt to apply permanent structure requirements directly to vehicle guarding and climbing arrangements. After consulting the technical advisor or technical expert at NHQ, HSOs should apply the general principles of guarding and fall-protection.

There may be situations where fall-protection equipment is not installed on the vehicle, but may be part of an independent structure. For example, horizontal lifelines above the vehicle or drop down or pull out platforms make the work place accessible in a safe manner.

There may be other situations where the equipment is not installed on the vehicle, as mentioned above, but it is present at the loading and unloading sites. Consideration must be given to situations where the employee may have to climb on the vehicle while away from these sites and to the equipment, instruction or training that is provided to the employee.

The point to remember is that the employer must provide fall protection to employees who are required to work (climb) on vehicles or their loads where there is a danger of falling. Where a HSO is unsure of the degree of compliance in any given case, he or she should request assistance from their Technical Advisor - OHS.

Where either proper guarding or combined fall-protection measures are not adequate, the HSO shall take appropriate action in accordance with OPD 700-5 "Response to Non-Compliance with the Canada Labour Code, Part II".

In response to an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance or direction, the employer may correct the situation of non-compliance by complying with 12.10(1) directly or may choose to use the "not reasonably practicable" alternative provided in 12.10 (1.1) of the COHSR.

Health and safety officers will ensure compliance with section 12.10 of the Regulations within their respective regions. If one determines that a case may involve more than one region, the "lead region" (where the employer's main office is located) should be informed of the case. Furthermore, regions should find out beforehand if any initiative has been taken in the past by the lead region in order to ensure that all cases are dealt with consistently.

Question 2

What is the process for dealing with reports to the regional health and safety officer?

Issues

There may be circumstances where it is not reasonably practicable to provide fall protection to employees. An employer must then, in a report to the regional health and safety officer, explain why it is not reasonably practicable to provide fall protection and include the job safety analysis and a description of the training and instruction required by the regulations.

Detailed guidelines for performing a job safety analysis are available on the HRSDC-Labour Program website. Any similar job safety analysis process is acceptable.

In reporting instances where an employer finds that it is not reasonably practicable to provide fall protection equipment, the employer must clearly demonstrate that a genuine effort has been made to investigate the alternatives.

The regional health and safety officer will assess each case on its own merits and will need to see the following documentation:

  1. The reasons why it is not reasonably practicable to provide a fall-protection system
  2. The job safety analysis of the work activities associated with climbing and working at height on a vehicle or its load
  3. A description of the training and instruction provided to employees who are likely to climb onto the vehicle or its load
  4. A description of the measures to be taken to prevent employees from falling from vehicles
  5. Proof that the policy or work place committee or the health and safety representative has been consulted and the employer has taken its recommendations into account
  6. Any additional information that may support the employer's case (eg. safety consultant or engineer's report).

Fall-Protection Systems

Various work processes and systems may be considered to provide an acceptable level of fall protection for workers on vehicles. Factors that should be taken into consideration when evaluating the level of compliance include:

  • keeping time and frequency of working at heights to a minimum,
  • avoiding conditions that are known to cause falls such as poor contact surfaces for hand or foot positions,
  • awkward or difficult positioning,
  • tools/equipment that are not easily manoeuvred,
  • ease of use of portable or fixed fall-protection equipment.

The following equipment may be considered for use singly or in combination:

  1. Ladders

    Ladders should preferably be fixed to the vehicle and be continuous from bumper height to the top of the vehicle or to the highest level required for the task.

    • Side rails or hand holds shall be continuous and extend to the highest level required to maintain a 3 point hand/foot position.
    • Steps shall be spaced away from the vehicle to allow placement of feet to the heel and provide a flat, non-skid surface.
    • The width and spacing of the steps shall be sufficient to allow the worker to safely ascend/descend without loss of balance or position. A width of 40 cm will normally be sufficient.

    Portable ladders may be considered for use if they meet the above and are secured against movement.

  2. Walking platforms

    Walking surfaces on vehicles are required to be fixed in place and be constructed of materials providing a continuous, non-slip surface. The width shall be sufficient to allow worker movement without loss of balance. A width of 40 cm will normally be sufficient.

    Where there is a risk of falling, walking platforms shall be equipped with a fixed or collapsible handrail on the outside edge if the platform is safely below the top of the vehicle or, on both sides, if the platform is on top of the vehicle.

  3. Guardrails

    Guardrails shall be provided for all walking platforms in accordance with 2) and be designed to withstand a horizontal force of 890 N. The height of the guardrail in the upright position shall not be less than 900 mm and shall have a mid rail. Toe boards are required only where there is a hazard that tools or other objects may fall from the walking platform.

  4. Horizontal lifeline

    As much as possible, the horizontal lifeline should be arranged so that it provides travel restraint as opposed to fall arrest.

    The positioning of the lifeline along the centreline of the vehicle together with a fixed lanyard and body harness would provide better protection than a lifeline along one side of the vehicle as the free fall distance would be greater and the design of the anchor points and lifeline would require greater strength and performance. Preference should be given to systems that stop the falling worker at the shortest distance. In no case can the free fall distance be greater than 1.2 m.

Unusual Vehicles/Loads

In some industries, vehicles are custom made or are unusual because of their design or use. As well, some load types are unusual because of their size or arrangement. Some examples are auto haulers, bulk carriers that require workers to perform functions inside the open top box walls, and flatbed trailers used in the logging and pipeline industries.

  1. Auto haulers

    In light of the requirement for drivers to load or unload vehicles with ramps and enter or exit vehicles with variable configurations as well as the auto hauler requirement to move horizontally and vertically to accommodate the loading pattern, it is difficult to adopt standard fall-protection systems or equipment. A system of fixed ladders, vertical or horizontal hand holds, platforms and guardrails such that a worker can always maintain a 3 point hand-foot position while ascending or descending or traversing to/from the auto hauler and auto will normally be considered adequate.

  2. Bulk carriers

    There will be instances where employees will be required to perform work inside the carrier and on top of its load. If there is a danger of falling outside the perimeter of the box, fall protection is required.

  3. Flatbed trailers (logging or pipeline operations)

    These load types can be hazardous to climb onto because of their round and slippery condition, particularly in winter, and the fact that loading takes place mostly in remote areas without the benefit of any permanent loading/unloading facilities. As well, load securement and handling of individual logs or pipes often require workers to be at the top of the load level

    There are few options for workers to be tied off except with static lines running through the centreline of the load or working from fixed platforms. In all cases, workers must be secured from falling if they are working at a height of more than 2.4 m above the nearest permanent safe level.

Criteria for determining "reasonably practicable"

The RHSO will review the employer's report using the criteria of "reasonably practicable" set out in 920-IPG-055, and on the weight of the case presented.

Actions resulting from reports

Tracking

The RHSO will ensure that the Permit, Exemption, Notification (PEN) module of LA2000 is updated to reflect receipt of the employer's report as follows:

  1. Upon receipt of the report:
    1. A new permit will be created using the code "Part XII Report to RHSO - 12.10 (1.1)".
    2. "Date effective" will be the date the report is made by the employer.
    3. "Expiry Date" is optional and may be used to trigger a notice for a possible site visit or follow-up based on the requirement for the employer to conduct a review every two years.
    4. PEN status code "PEN logged" will be entered.
    5. If feasible, the report, if not already available electronically, will be scanned and attached to the PEN record. If this is not feasible due to the size of the report, the Comments tab will be used to identify from which RHSO the report is available.
    6. A letter of acknowledgment (Appendix A) is to be sent to the employer.
  2. The PEN status codes will be used as appropriate. These codes include: "Under investigation", "Sent to NHQ", "Received in NHQ", "Recommended by TA", "Not recommended by TA". The codes "Recommended and not recommended by TA" are to be used to indicate if the report has been reviewed and either accepted or rejected. If a report is rejected, a decision is to be taken as to whether the rejected report remains on the LA2000 system or is withdrawn. A status code of "Not recommended by TA" indicates the employer must comply with the provisions in subsection 12.10(1).
  3. Unusual issues are to be indicated on the Comments tab.

Follow-up to Employer's Report

Upon receipt of the employer's report, the RHSO will determine if it appears to meet the terms for "not reasonably practicable" and put it on file.

If the RHSO believes that the report is unacceptable or incomplete, he or she may follow-up with the employer in writing, requesting additional information (see sample letter in Appendix B).

It should be noted that in either case, the RHSO may recommend to management that an assignment be generated to have a HSO carry out a site visit in order to visually verify if procedures outlined in the employer's report are actually being followed.

If the HSO finds any discrepancy, he or she may obtain compliance as per OPD 700-5 "Response to Non-Compliance with the Canada Labour Code, Part II".

Appendix A - Acknowledgment of Receipt

**Where input is necessary**

**Date**

Assignment :

**Name and Address of Contact**

Dear Mr., Mrs. or Ms.

Re: Acknowledgement of receipt - Employer's Report to the Regional Health and Safety Officer Paragraph 12.10(1.1)(b) of the Canada Occupational Health and Safety Regulations

This letter acknowledges receipt of your report submitted in accordance with paragraph 12.10(1.1)(b) of the Canada Occupational Health and Safety Regulations.

This letter does not in any way relieve you of your full responsibility for the health and safety of employees who must work on vehicles. Should any changes take place in the work processes or environment which affect the health and safety of employees conducting this work, you remain fully responsible for reacting to those changes regardless of whatever action we may take regarding this report

Should you have any questions or concerns relating to this matter, please feel free to contact our office at the address indicated in this letter.

Yours sincerely,

**Name**
**Title**
**Telephone Number, Fax Number**
**Address (if not shown on letterhead)**

Appendix B - Request for additional information

**Where input is necessary**

**Date**

Assignment :

**Name and Address of Contact**

Dear Mr., Mrs. or Ms.

Re: Request for additional information - Employer's Report to the Regional Health and Safety Officer Paragraph 12.10(1.1)(b) of the Canada Occupational Health and Safety Regulations

This letter is to advise you that the report you have submitted pursuant to paragraph 12.10(1.1)(b) of the Canada Occupational Health and Safety Regulations has been found to be (unacceptable or incomplete) for the following reason(s):

**List the reason(s)**

Therefore, it is requested that you (submit or resubmit) the following information:

**list the information that must be submitted or resubmitted**

Note: This next paragraph is optional. It is to be included if the RSO believes the issue is serious enough to indicate the procedures do not reasonably protect employees (but is not to the degree that it is a "danger". Depending on the degree of seriousness, it may be necessary to send a HSO to determine a need for compliance action, i.e. a direction for danger.

As your (JSA/training plan/other) do(es) not appear to meet the requirements adequately, it is strongly recommended that you, as the employer, consider taking action, in consultation with your (policy/health and safety committee/representative), to restrict the activities of your employees so they do not perform the work in question which presents a hazard. We will endeavour to respond to a resubmission of your report as quickly as possible to alleviate any restrictions.

Should you have any questions or concerns relating to this matter, please feel free to contact our office at the address indicated in this letter.

Yours sincerely,

**Name**
**Title**
**Telephone Number, Fax Number**
**Address (if not shown on letterhead)**

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