Trainer admits safety education is challenging as inquest into 3 deaths continues

The joint inquest into the deaths of three southwestern Ontario roofers moved into its third day Wednesday. 

A typical fall prevention course is a one-day program

Ken Poission, with the Infrastructure Health and Safety Association, says it's hard to fit all the training into the one-day course. (Stacey Janzer/CBC)

The joint inquest into the deaths of three southwestern Ontario roofers moved into its third day Wednesday. 

Three men died in separate roofing accidents in 2016 and 2017, prompting a joint inquest to investigate the circumstances. During the first two days of the inquest, the jury heard from witnesses and family members, as well as from the Ministry of Labour.

The jury of five heard Wednesday from Ken Poisson, with the Infrastructure Health and Safety Association. The IHSA is responsible for training workers in personal fall protection and fall prevention. 

As of April 2015, legislation required a one-day program to train workers in fall prevention. 

"[There's] a lot of stuff in a one-day program," said Poisson. "We can't go through every single scenario. That's just not possible."

Within that training is both fall prevention and fall protection. Prevention training is meant to ensure workers don't fall. Protection training aims to help workers fall safely in the event it happens. A half-day refresher course is required every three years.

According to Poisson, site specific training is also required, in addition to the one-day course. 

"The responsibility is on the front line supervisor," said Poisson, adding that the supervisor needs to provide both oral and written safety information that identifies hazards and puts controls in place. 

Poisson admits small businesses have challenges keeping up with the "latest and greatest" in what works best for safety. 

"Businesses can sometimes look at health and safety as an expense, not an investment," said Poisson, recommending that small businesses should reach out to their local associations to find out how to improve health and safety for their workers.

What happens next?

The crown expects the jury may take "some time" to determine what, if anything, to recommend. The inquest could change how fall prevention training is mandated in Ontario. 

The jury is expected to answer five questions about each of the three accidents. The jury does not determine guilt and the decision does not have to be unanimous.

The Ministry of Labour asked the jury to figure out a way to get workers to tie off at the start of the day and stay tied off until they go home.

"Please help us not come back [to the inquest]," the MOL asked of the jury.

With files from Stacey Janzer


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