According to the NS Department of Labour, close or more than half of construction sites around the Metro area are failing to use proper fail protetion harnesses.
According to Scott Nauss, senior director of inspection and compliance at the department in 2016, fall protection compliance – whether people were wearing properly anchored harnesses while working at heights – was 75 per cent. In 2017, that number fell to 70 per cent.
Nauss noted that the fall is due to minor pockets of non-compliance in areas of suburban Halifax like Bedford, Hammonds Plains and Fall River.
These les-policed suburban areas are what is driving the overall compliance rate for fall protection down, according to professionals like Nauss.
It’s worrying that there doesn’t seem to be any concern for such a basic safety precaution
It is generally routine for the Department of Labour to show up unannounced on job sites and do adhoc inspections of workers safety equipment. Earlier this year, during construction at a community center in preparation for an online bingo event, inspectors fined a local contractor for sub-par fall protection. While the main goal is education, the statistics are tracked and gathered and do inform policy advisors. These blitzes became more of a priority after reports of worker injuries due to falls became more widepsread during 2013.
Ideally, according to Danny Cavanagh, head of the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour, there is an initiative on behalf of construction contractors to implement these safety issues.
“The courts, in our view, do a fairly decent job, but often times the penalties that get imposed aren’t strong enough, and if they were stronger, that would go a long way, we believe, to make sure there was more compliance,” he said.
Updated data on the number of construction sites using fall protection, as well as fully complying with Department of Labour policies is due out at the end of 2018 and should hopefully reflect a cultural change towards these much-needed regulations.