Safety at Heights – Are You Taking Correct Safety Measures?

Falls are a frequent cause of serious injury or death in Australian workplaces. In the 10 years from 2003 to 2013, 11% of all workplace deaths were related to falls. Working at great heights is obviously hazardous, but death can occur from a fall of less than 6 feet. Even falling from ground level into a shallow hole, trench or service pit represents a serious hazard.

There are numerous ways to fall from heights in the workplace. Ladders, scaffolds, rooftops can all seem like a safe place to stand and work but all three can be equally dangerous. An unstable ladder, poorly constructed scaffolding unit or slippery roof can increase the risk of falling. A fall happens in the blink of an eye and be harmless to deadly as a result. Are you taking the correct safety measures for fall prevention? 


Is the Equipment Safe? 

Workers use a variety of equipment when doing jobs in high places. Are ladders in use and if so are the ladder steps in good shape with non-slip treads? What about scaffolding? Is it built properly and able hold the necessary weight of workers and equipment? Laurie Joyce from Fortress Fencing and Safety Systems believes to be extra safe when working at heights scaffolding netting can mean the difference between a minor injury and a major injury.

Lifts, platforms and safety harnesses are regularly used workplace equipment and in some cases, mandatory. Lifts should be in good working order and inspected regularly. Platforms are similar to scaffolding but may or may not have rails. Like scaffolds, platforms should be well constructed and able to bear the weight. Safety harnesses are handy, and in most cases required, for working on steep rooftops or any construction above a few feet. The clips and lines should be in good working order with no frays or shredded areas. 


Falling Items

Another workplace consideration is items falling from above. A trowel, hammer, paint bucket or any tool dropped from above will seriously injure or kill if it hits somebody’s head below. Hard hats go a long way in decreasing workplace injury in this manner but will only work while on the head. Hard hats don’t help if they’re lying in the back of a Land Rover. However not just any hard hat will do, only Australian Standards Certified Hard Hats have been independently tested and are guaranteed to provide the level of protection required.


Regulations and Training

It’s not enough to simply check ladders and scaffolds and hope for the best. Almost 8,000 Australian workers filed compensations claims in 2010-1011. This works out to 21 accidents daily resulting in lost productivity for at least a week or more. Many of these costly accidents could have been prevented by fully understanding safety regulations and adhering to them. Good site managers implement training sessions with regular reminders and inspections. Assigning new people to experienced mentors is a good practice. Well trained mentored workers make safer workers long term. 


Taking Safety Seriously

The business owner, work site manager and employees should come together in solid agreement regarding safety. It may add expense to implement certain safety measures but in the long run, safety pays off with less injury and claim costs. Working in tandem to keep the workplace productive as well as safe is a win-win for everyone.


Related Articles:

Hazards in Confined Spaces – How aware of these are you?
Safety Starts at the Top – Former BHP CEO shares a valuable lesson in achieving safety compliance in the workplace


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