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Falls from the same height

In all workplaces, workers may fall from the same height.

When the floor is slippery because it has just been cleaned or when it is in poor condition (holes, creased or rippled carpet), workers are at risk of falling. Floors in kitchens, factories or hospitals may also be dirty from water, oil, food, waste or biological fluids that can make the floor very slippery. On construction sites, the ground can be cluttered, in poor condition or slippery due to weather conditions.

The employer is responsible for implementing preventive measures. For their part, workers must rigorously apply them. Falls from the same height can result in sprains, strains, fractures and other injuries. By applying the required preventive measures, they can easily be avoided.

Safety rules

Mandatory safety measures

CNESST inspectors will be particularly attentive to situations that can lead to falls from the same height and will ensure that employers implement the necessary preventive measures.

To prevent falls from the same height, employers must ensure that entranceways, walkways, passageways, floors and workstations are kept in good repair, are not slippery and are kept clear of obstructions, both indoors and outdoors.

Other measures

Depending on the tasks to be performed, one or more of the following measures must be taken by the employer to ensure the safety of the worker:

make sure the premises are properly lit

mark walkways and make sure they are wide enough to allow materials to be handled safely

make sure there is sufficient clearance between machinery, installations or stacks of materials to allow the work to be performed safely

make sure materials are stacked so that they do not impede movement in walkways, passageways and aisles

protect electrical wires, extension cords and flexible hoses on the floor

remove refuse and waste material from workstations so that it does not cause any inconvenience, using appropriate containers or an inclined or vertical chute

make sure workplaces are laid out so as to protect workers, for example by:

  • installing non-slip flooring in areas where there is a risk of slipping
  • installing visual markers to indicate differences in floor height
  • choosing a type of flooring suitable for the activities carried out during the construction of a new establishment or during the renovation of an existing establishment
     
  • s. 51.1 of the LSST

make sure work is organized safely, for example by:

  • scheduling work and allowing the time required to perform tasks in order to avoid rushing
  • establishing a program for workplace maintenance, including parking lots and access roads
  • establishing work procedures for managing spills that include prompt cleaning, designation of a responsible person and the installation of signage until the spill has been cleaned up
  • using appropriate products for the type of flooring for floor maintenance
     
  • s. 51.3 of the LSST

identify, control or eliminate situations that could cause workers to fall from the same height, for example by:

  • regularly inspecting workplaces to detect and correct these situations
  • making it compulsory to wear shoes with non-slip soles in workplaces with a high risk of slipping due to the nature of the activities
  • providing removable spikes during the winter period to workers who are required to visit customers outside the workplace
     
  • s. 51.5 of the LSST

inform workers about the risk of falls from the same height and about safe work methods

Specific measures for a sector of activity

Construction

On a construction site, the ground can be uneven, muddy or bumpy. Materials or equipment may also have been left on the ground. All of these factors can cause workers to fall.

To prevent the risk of falls from the same height on a construction site:

  • make sure traffic routes are kept clear; there must be no debris or tools
  • clear snow from traffic routes and put abrasive on them during the winter
  • make sure there is adequate lighting and that extension cords are suspended high enough to allow workers to move about safely:
    • if extension cords have to run along the floor, they must be protected, for example by covering them with wooden boards
    • put extension cords that are not being used away
  • bend or cut protruding pieces or cover the ends
  • provide specific reserved areas for storing materials
  • dispose of waste as it is produced in appropriate containers
  • encourage workers to take frequent breaks when it is hot, as heat fatigue can reduce attention and increase the risk of tripping
Forestry

There are many things in the forest that can cause a worker to fall. There may be obstacles on the ground, such as branches, stumps and rocks, or the ground may be wet, icy or uneven. 

Preventing falls from the same height

To prevent the risk of falls from the same height when brushcutting or doing other work in the forest: 

  • train new workers in how to prevent falls, and in particular how to identify:
    • the risk of falls 
    • strategies for reducing the number of falls
  • train new workers in how to adjust a brushcutter harness  (in French only)
  • put in place a buddy system for new workers
  • assess the site when planning the work to make sure it is safe, for example:
    • if it is raining, have the workers work on level ground rather than on a slope
  • implement a safe and effective work method
    • allow workers to share their strategies and work methods
  • use tools that are in good condition and properly maintained
  • provide workers with the necessary personal protective equipment, such as boots with non-slip soles for forestry operations
    • make sure that the workers wear the equipment 
Food service and processing

The floors of kitchens, butchers' shops and food processing plants must always be carefully maintained to prevent falls. Fat from cooking oils, water or blood from carcasses can make the floor very slippery.

To prevent falls from the same height:

  • wash the floor near the fryers with a powerful degreaser and very hot water
  • preferably place the fryers in an area of the kitchen where fewer people go by
  • install garbage cans in easily accessible locations
  • pick up anything that falls on the ground immediately
  • at the dishwashing station, install a specially designed water mat to prevent the formation of puddles
  • remove and clean the mat regularly
  • maintain the dishwasher to prevent water leakage
  • if there is no mat, use a scraper to direct water to the drain
  • keep the floor clear
  • in a butchers’ shop, do not use cardboard boxes to absorb blood that falls on the floor. keep floors clear and absorb liquids with a mop
Health care

The health care sector has the highest number of injuries caused by falls from the same height every year. Workers may fall because a floor is soiled with bodily fluids or because of trailing wires from medical devices on the floor.

To prevent the risk of falls from the same height in the health care sector:

  • choose appropriate cleaning products for the type of contaminants that might be on the floors, such as bodily fluids, grease or paraffin wax
  • place absorbent mats at entrances and non-slip mats in areas at risk of water accumulation, such as near a frequently used water fountain
  • ensure the drip trays of ice machines and food carts are maintained well to prevent them from leaking water onto the floors
  • use retractable cords or cable protectors to prevent the floors from becoming cluttered with electric cables or wires
  • place warning signs or cones in areas where the floor is slippery and block access during cleaning
  • during the winter period, provide spikes to home care workers
  • put step stools and stools away when not in use
  • make sure all rooms are well lit:
    • provide flashlights to workers who do night rounds to help them see obstacles better
  • avoid walking with loads that block the view

Laws and regulations