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Suspended Work Platform Systems (SWPS) Training

A Preventable Tragedy

Minutes before quitting time on Christmas Eve, 2009, four workers at a renovation project in
Toronto plunged 13 stories to their deaths when the swing stage they were standing on broke apart. A fifth worker was seriously injured in the incident but survived. The swing stage was faulty, but the accident investigation also showed that, among many contributing factors, none of the workers had been properly using their safety harnesses at the time.

This incident, considered one of Ontario’s worst construction tragedies in the past 50 years, was preventable. It was caused by a combination of faulty equipment, poor supervision and improper use of personal protective equipment and lack of training. The renovation project manager was subsequently charged with criminal negligence and, in 2015, sentenced to 3½ years in prison for his lapse in safety responsibilities.

During sentencing, the judge imposed a ‘significant term’ to make it clear to others that they have a serious obligation to ensure the safety of workers.

2017 Legislation Amendment Increases Employer Responsibilities
for Suspended Access Equipment

An amendment to O.Reg. 213/91 – Construction Projects came into force January 1, 2017 that further emphasizes the responsibilities of employers whose workers use suspended access equipment (SAE) on construction sites in Ontario.

Under this amended legislation, workers, including young workers and workers new to the job must be properly trained and supervised when setting up and using equipment such as suspended work platform systems (SWPS).

Specific training must be provided to address identified hazards while using suspended equipment, including training on working at heights, material handling as well as training on the proper use and maintenance of personal protection equipment. In addition, all workers must be informed of their safety rights and made aware of written emergency procedures. All workers should be trained in Worker Health and Safety Awareness, a mandatory course in Ontario.

Where to Get the Required Training

Act First Safety (AFS) provides the training needed to safely set up, inspect and operate suspended work platform systems*. The two-day training program includes theory and practical hands-on demonstrations and activities to ensure workers and supervisors understand and practice the procedures necessary to safely operate suspended work platform equipment.

AFS also provides the necessary pre-requisite training including Working at Heights and is a MOL approved training provider. Our training meets and exceeds the enforcement standards of the Ontario Ministry of Labour. After successfully completing our training, learners receive a certificate that confirms their compliance with current safety training legislation (s. 138 and s 138.1 of O. Reg. 213/91 Construction Projects).

* AFS training does not cover use of a Boatswain’s chair.

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