Fall-protection rules would cost employers $72 million

OTTAWA (Sept. 13, 1999) — Proposed new federal regulations that would require employers to protect workers from falls of eight feet or more are expected to cost employers $72.3 million, but offer little guidance on how to comply with the rules.

The proposed amendments to the Canada Labour Code, published Sept. 4 in the Canada Gazette Part II, would require employers to install a fall-protection system for workers who must climb more than eight feet off the ground. An employer could also eliminate the need to climb that high, or train workers how to safely climb and work at such a height. In the latter case, the employer would have to explain in writing to a government safety officer why it wasn’t practical to install a fall protection mechanism.

The rules would affect federally regulated trucking operations where drivers must climb up onto trailers and other equipment to load, unload, or secure freight.

The HRDC said it was trying to meet employer concerns by requiring only reasonably practical measures to meet its requirements. Trucking industry groups have long argued that the government’s definition of “reasonably practical” is vague.

The department said it expects that implementation of fall protection measures will cost employers a collective $72.3 million, although some industry groups have estimated the cost at $250 million. The benefits in terms of reduced injuries and less lost time at work would exceed $200 million, the HRDC said.

Companies and individuals have until mid November to comment on the HRDC proposal. For more information, contact Richard Lafrance of HRDC at 819/997-8763, fax: 819/953-4830; and e-mail: richard.lafrance@hrdc-drhc.gc.ca.

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