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Canada’s Scaffold Standard Gets Attention After 25 Years

There are several major initiatives underway in Canada’s scaffold industry in 2013 that will result in national implications, both positive and long overdue.

CSA Standard 269.2 M87 Access Scaffold for Construction Purposes
Canada’s scaffold standard, the CSA 269.2 M87 Access Scaffold for Construction Purposes was reviewed in 1987, but that’s as far as it went.  After more than 25 years and 18 months of fund raising to secure the $100,000 needed to take action on the project, the CSA Technical Committee had its kick off meeting May 30, 2013.

Comprised in total by some 20 individuals representing various segments of Canada’s scaffold and associated industries, the Committee is led by Chair, John Brasil, president and COO of Etobicoke Ironworks, Vice-Chair, John O’Hara, president of the Scaffold Industry Association of Canada (SIAC), Ontario Chapter, and CSA Project Manager, Jonathan Venalainen. The committee is then divided into five subcommittees that will tackle key issues: scope, design, testing, site activities, and materials. The Committee’s goal is to address key omissions in the outdated standard, including modular system scaffold.

The revision process will take two years and is scheduled to be completed by fall 2015.

Suspended Access Equipment (SAE)-Proposed Revised Legislation- Ontario
Back in December 2009 there was a major scaffold accident in which four lives were lost. Since that time, the SIAC’s Swingstage Committee has been actively involved as part of the Ministry of Labor(MOL) SAE Working Group, reviewing the legislation that applies to swing stages—lobbying on behalf of the industry to create new regulations that address the safety issues, and are yet both practical and feasible. Together with the Building and Concrete Restoration Association of Ontario (BCRAO), the SIAC has submitted numerous proposals for industry-approved regulations. While the majority of the proposals were accepted in principal at the January 2013 meeting, the regulatory body has since rejected these proposals during the April 2013 meeting; stating that they now will need to further review these proposals.

Both the SIAC and BCRAO have provided extensive input during the last three years in an attempt to have the MOL accept industry-proposed safe and practical revisions to the current legislation. For whatever reasons the MOL has, to-date, refused to accept these proposals. Revised legislation is long overdue and the MOL needs to either accept the recommendations or reject them and provide valid reasons in doing so.

Designated Occupation Scaffolders
Traveling west, the Alberta chapter of SIAC has been actively pursuing a designation for the occupation of scaffolders for the industrial, commercial, and institutional construction markets. Rick Beaulieu, Alberta chapter president— also the presiding officer for the Provincial Committee of the Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training—reported that they have retained a company to conduct an independent survey of the markets that will include: employers (large companies that contract scaffold companies), scaffold service companies, and scaffolders.

This designation will be one of the most significant events in the history of scaffolding in Canada. It will give us a competency profile together with the three year apprenticeship program that will ensure only qualified, trained individuals can participate in a career path dedicated to providing a safe work- ing height environment for all users of scaffold platforms.

Additionally, the Alberta chapter has trained more than 1500 individuals since January 2013. With over 500 scaffold erector apprentices, 400 Basic Scaffold Competence and Inspection students, and 400 attending the Suspended Scaffold Hazard Awareness Operator training, to-date, the Canadian program exemplifies the priority training has become in the scaffold industry.

Ninety percent of training is conducted in Alberta. The industrial sector demands for skilled personnel has contributed to this fact, but we also need to acknowledge the commitment of the relatively small number of Accredited Training Institutes that have produced these numbers. It’s very impressive and augurs well for the future.


Lift & Access is part of the Catalyst Communications Network publication family.