· By Brandon Hunter
Thank you IUPAT!
Good news for drywall stilts, thanks to the efforts of the IUPAT in Ontario, Canada. This isn't exactly recent news, but it might be new news to some of you. We had the pleasure of meeting up with a couple people from the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades at the AWCI Build23 Convention + Exhibition in Las Vegas recently. In their own words they shared a the following story with us.
Checkout the article:
IUPAT Ontario, Canada Helps in Lifting Forty Year Ban on the Use of Workplace Stilts
Forty years ago, stilts became illegal on Ontario construction sites. On December 15th 2009, this law changed due to an announcement from Minister of Labour, Peter Fonseca that once again saw stilts legalized in the workplace. This change is effective from January 1, 2010 and is applicable on residential sites for drywall finishers and workers that install vapour barriers and insulation.
It has been a long journey toward having stilts legalized in the workplace. Progressive changes in our industry over the past 20 years initiated a comprehensive lobby in March 2005 to amend the Occupational Health and Safety Act. Consumer demand for higher ceilings and walls in the residential sector was leading to drywall finishers increasing bench heights and inevitably succumbing to multiple strains and falls. Stilts were also changing (and improving) through advancing technology and design.
Discussions with the Ministry of Labour began from industry stakeholders, (the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, United Brotherhood of Carpenters, and Interior System Contractors Association) that stated a case to have stilts legalized in the workplace. The Ministry argued that the priority of their use was in making safe workplaces and, if stilts were able to accommodate that requirement, then a serious review to legalize stilts must be considered.
During a period of several months, stakeholders worked with the Ministry in drafting procedures and technical requirements to support a Pilot Program for stilts. Continental research began in an effort to obtain information on stilt safety.
Upon completion of a “draft” Pilot Project proposal, endorsement would be required from the Construction Safety Association of Ontario (CSAO) Provincial Labour/Management Committee, a Provincial body composed of labour and management stakeholders with a strong voice for endorsing and promoting health and safety throughout Ontario in the construction industry. The committee agreed to support a Pilot Project for stilts with the facilitation of the project from the CSAO.
The facts regarding worker safety was still inconclusive.
The University of Waterloo has long been involved in conducting health and safety research and so, the institution was recommended to stakeholders for a study of stilt safety. Dr. Stephen Prentice of the Kinesiology Department was contacted.
The University’s study was conclusive, finding that working from stilts provides drywall finishers with less muscle and physical strain than when using benches. The findings provided the Ministry with sufficient evidence to move forward.
All signs pointed toward legislative amendment but a few more requirements still needed to be addressed. First, a regulation change would require language to be inserted into the Occupational Health & Safety Act to regulate the wearing of stilts and the conditions in which stilts could be applied. In order to have drywall finishers wear stilts a training program would also be mandatory, ensuring that those working with stilts were proficient in their use and understood stilt regulations, safety issues and maintenance. Two committees were formed by the Ministry of Labour and the industry stakeholders with facilitation from the Construction Safety Association of Ontario.
These committees worked with the Ministry of Labour’s technical staff to develop regulation amendments utilizing language from jurisdictions that permit stilts. Training syllabuses were developed by the IUPAT Finishing Trades Institute in order to begin curriculum development for the training committee (orchestrated by the CSAO research and development staff).
The CSAO Provincial Labour/Management committee had seen two presentations by the University of Waterloo and Dr. Prentice. The draft regulations and the training program were completed and endorsed. Now it was time for the final phase — sending the draft regulations to the Labour/Management Network around the province for response and comment. The Provincial committee endorsed the project and now only the H&S network needed to respond.
Support for the completed work by the network was essential, the government wanting full support on the regulation change. In the end the network approved, following some discussion and clarification
Work was concluded with the Minister’s announcement.
There are many individuals and organizations that contributed to having stilts legalized in the workplace. We wish to thank them along with the members and leadership of the Painters, Carpenters, ISCA, Ministry of labour, FTI and CSAO. This was a team effort that only worked due to coordination and hard work.
For more information on IUPAT Ontario and details on the new legislation on the use of workplace stilts, visit www.IUPAT.on.ca.