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Associations, Labour

IHSA suspended work platform training a must

Dan O'Reilly
IHSA suspended work platform training a must
IHSA — IHSA instructor Lou Terpstra (right) talks to course participants Mark Jackson (left) and Charlie Chilcott (centre) at IHSA’ Voyager Court indoor training facility in Toronto.

In the potentially dangerous occupation of working from suspended work platforms, keeping up to date with training is paramount, says the Industrial Health & Safety Association (IHSA).

It wants to emphasize the importance — and need — of its Suspended Access Equipment – User Proficiency Refresher course. The one-day program is specifically tailored to construction workers, supervisors, and others who used suspended work platform after they have been installed by other firms. (IHSA offers separate training and refresher programs for installers.)

Under provincial legislation those workers need to be trained as often as necessary or at least every three years.

What that means is that workers who completed the initial training in 2020 need to update their training either from IHSA or other education deliverers, says IHSA health and safety consultant Louis Terpstra.

For whatever reason, there has been limited interest in the program, with only a small number of registrants to date. But that is something the association is working to overcome, he says.

 “We are trying to reach out to our industry stakeholders and assist them is meeting their compliance obligations by providing them a practical method to achieving this through the one-day refresher program.”

Available at the association’s Voyager Main Office & Training Centre in Toronto and its Ottawa Skills Development Centre—or at employer’s site—the program content includes the use of work and roof plans, the use of fall protection equipment as it relates to suspended work platforms, and inspecting and operating the platforms.

Participants must complete a multiple written choice test and successfully complete a hands-on demonstration of eight critical tasks worth 80 per cent of the final grade.

There are, however, two critical perquisites. Participants must have successfully completed both IHSA’s Working at Heights – Fundamentals of Fall Prevention training program (or an equivalent working at heights training program approved by the Ministry of Labour/Prevention Office), as well as the initial Suspended Access Equipment – Users training program.

Proof of that training must be provided to the IHSA instructor at the beginning of the training session or the participants won’t be able to take the program, he says.

As the course has perquisites, online registration is not available, says Terpstra, who advises interested parties to contact the IHSA directly to register. (Call 1-800-263-5024).

In the case of an employer who wants the course conducted at their premises, there are a number of steps which need to be completed. That includes providing documentation that they have space and the necessary equipment and to host the training. Upon verification of that documentation, it will take IHSA at least two weeks to schedule the training, he points out.

There might be some reluctance by companies or workers to take the refresher when they already have the initial training, says IHSA health and safety consultant Sam Preziuso, who works with Terpstra in delivering the program. “But it (the course) is a validation of the training which they already have.”

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