Working at Heights – A Safe Work Month Focus
Australia spends over $60 billion annually on workplace injury and illness, according to Safe Work Australia. Work-related injuries, illnesses and deaths impose costs on employers, workers and the community. Working at heights is a high-risk activity and a leading cause of death and serious injury in Australia. Ladders, incomplete scaffolds, falling off a truck, a roof edge or falling through fragile roof sheeting are the major causes of injuries.
In terms of mechanism of the fatalities, falls from a height were the main cause of fatalities between 2013 and 2017. Most people who seriously injured or killed, fall from a height of four metres or less.
A person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU), or employer has specific obligations under the model WHS Regulations to manage the risk, as far as is reasonably practicable, of someone falling from one level to another. The PCBU must ensure that information, training or instruction provided to a worker is suitable and adequate having regard to:
- the nature of the work carried out by the worker
- the nature of the risks associated with the work at the time of the information, training and instruction, and
- the control measures implemented.
The PCBU must also ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that the information, training and instruction are provided in a way that is readily understandable for the person to whom it is provided. Workers must be trained and have the appropriate skills to carry out a particular task safely.
In summary, there are simple things you can do, depending on your industry and the activity you are doing. Deaths and injuries from falls are preventable, below are some actions you can take to prevent falls from height:
- Talk to workers, colleagues and managers and make a plan together to minimise the risk of working at heights.
- Minimise the need to work at height, work on the ground or on a solid construction wherever possible.
- Install a fall prevention device (should be considered at the design and planning stage).
- Develop work procedures on how to correctly install, use and maintain the system.
- Training and proper personal protective equipment (PPE) should be provided.
- Only person who complete the right qualification and be assessed as competent should conduct high-risk work.
It’s time to commit to building safe and healthy workplaces for all Australians. This Safe Work Month become a safety champion in working at heights. Check out the Safe Work website for more information. https://www.safework.nsw.gov.au/hazards-a-z/working-at-heights