Working Safely whilst at Heights

By September 20, 2018Safety, Working at Heights

Between 2012 and 2015 more than 17,500 workers were injured after falling from a height in NSW workplaces. Twenty-five died and more than 200 were permanently disabled. Understanding the risks associated with the work to be conducted is important in knowing if a safer alternative is available and what is reasonably practicable?

A fall hazard exists where there is potential to be displaced from one level to another, no matter the height, but obviously the greater the height the more severe the outcome. Understanding the risks associated with the work to be conducted is important in knowing if a safer alternative is available and what is reasonably practicable?

Falling from a height is a major hazard which could lead to serious injury or death and there are many ways of managing the risk of falling from one level to another. Between 2012 and 2015 more than 17,500 workers were injured after falling from a height in NSW workplaces. Twenty-five died and more than 200 were permanently disabled.

Consideration of the potential risk of falls early when designing plant or structures can result in the elimination of such risks. However, not everyone is able to capture this opportunity in the design of their facility.

So, to prevent workers falling from one level to another, it is important to use a risk assessment approach, such as the hierarchy of controls, which is to try to:

  1. Eliminate heights – Carry out any work that involves the risk of a fall on the ground
  2. Work on Solid Construction – properly constructed stairs with fixed handrails, flat roofs with a parapet or permanently installed guard rails around the edges.
  3. Utilise Safe Systems of Work – By providing:
  • a fall prevention device (installing guard rails or an industrial rope access system)
  • a fall-arrest system or;
  • a work positioning system such as an elevated work platform.
  1. Provide Training – Workers who are required to work at any height where there is a potential to fall and cause injury, fall from one level to another, including work in elevated work platforms, work from scaffold, are required to be compliant with local legislation and Australian Standard AS/NZS: 1891. An appropriate training course to assist with verification of competency is RIIWHS204D – Work safely at heights, this is a module which will require an external delivery partner.

Ladders are regularly used to access places of height. Ensure if a ladder is being used, that it is being used correctly, i.e. with a sufficient angle (1:4). The ladder must be adequately maintained, for commercial use and fit for purpose in accordance with AS/NZS 1892 Portable Ladders.

It is very important that a planned program of inspections and maintenance supports these control measures. Victual has developed self-inspection checklist templates that will assist in verifying that plant and equipment used to work safely at height is in good condition and fit for purpose.

Additionally, online Working at Heights training can also create an awareness of what may cause physical trauma as a result from a workplace fall and how this may be prevented.  But if you are designing a new layout or a new piece of equipment which may have a fall risk then reach out to the Victual for some third party advice.