Falls are hurting Ontario workers. In 2016, 11,495 lost-time injury (LTI) claims resulted from falls. That’s the equivalent of 31 workers being injured every day due to a fall. Nine of those injuries were traumatic fatalities. And having two feet on the floor doesn’t mean you’re safe. In fact, same level falls are the most frequent, accounting for more than 70% of all falls.1 Based on an average benefit claim cost of $51,062, claims due to falls will cost a collective $249 million over the life of these claims.2
That's why Ministry of Labour inspectors will visit workplaces, through October and November, 2017, to conduct an enforcement blitz on falls.
What Will Inspectors Look For?
- Policies and programs
- Safe work practices
- Falls from ladders, mobile stands and platforms
- Falls from trucks/loads
- Worker training
Occupations most likely to suffer a fall
For 2016, WSIB data1 provides the following profile of occupations most likely to suffer a falls-related injury.
- General Farm Labourer
- Average age 40
- Almost all male
- Average of 50 lost days
- 63% are same level falls
- Retail Salesperson or Sale Clerk
- Average age 44
- 75% female
- Average of 22 lost days
- 75% are same level falls – including falls onto or against an object
- Average age 45
- 58% male
- Average of 38 lost days
- 76% are same level falls – including falls onto or against an object
Young Workers (14 - 24 years old)
- Retail Sales Clerks; Cooks; Food and Beverage Servers; Food Service Counter Attendants; Food Preparers; Cashiers
- Average age 21
- Equal split male/female
- Average of 13 lost days
- 65% are same level falls - including falls onto or against an object
1 By the Numbers: 2016 WSIB Statistical Report.
2 WSIB Injury Data: Retrieved from EIW Feb 13, 2014. Long-term costs of persistent claims not reflected.
What are slips, trips and falls?
There are two kinds of falls - same level or from height.
Same level falls can be caused by slippery and uneven surfaces, debris and tripping hazards, dark and obstructed pathways, and unsuitable footwear.
Falling from heights can be caused by working where there is a chance of falling more than three metres.
What the law says
Ontario's Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) requires that employers take every reasonable precaution to protect workers, provide information and instruction, and ensure that workers properly use or wear the required equipment. Employers, supervisors and workers can be prosecuted for not complying with the law.
Refer to industry-specific regulations for details on legislative compliance. Your health and safety association can provide this information to you.
How this hazard can affect your business
- Each year there are about 17,000 lost-time injuries due to falls in the workplace*
- 65% of all fall-related injuries are from "same level"*
- One in five lost-time injuries result from falls*
- Every year about 20 people die in Ontario because of workplace falls*
- 80 workers are injured every day because of a fall - that's one every 20 minutes*
- An average WSIB claim is $11,771; factor in other costs like lost productivity and staff replacement, and the cost can be as much as four times more - approximately $59,000 per injury*
- with a profit margin of 5%, sales/services required to cover the total cost of one injury equals about $1.2 million*
What you can do
- Have a company policy in place that clearly outlines the rules for housekeeping, lighting and inspections
- Ensure that required personal protective equipment, and other equipment, is in good repair and used properly
- Assist supervisors in meeting their obligation to ensure the rules are followed
- Provide proper training to workers on how to clean up spills, the proper use of fall protection equipment, the use of proper guard rails and covers over holes, etc.
- Provide continuous follow-up to make sure that the rules are adequate and are being followed, and to identify what needs improvement
- Investigate all incidents to determine how to eliminate the cause