When working at height the risk of falling can be quite high and is often not addressed properly in many workplaces!
The Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 sets out specific control measures that are required where there is a risk of a fall of at least:
- 3 metres in housing construction work; and
- 2 metres in other construction work.
Note that control measures may still be required for work below 3 metres in housing construction and below 2 metres for other construction work if a risk assessment suggests control measures should be provided.
In this newsletter we’ll be focused on the “other construction work” area as it best relates to our clientele.
If you don’t want to be issued an Improvement Notice or a Prohibition Notice then I strongly suggest you read this newsletter!
For other construction work where the risk of falling is 2 metres or more, or on a roof with a slope over 26°
Before starting work the person conducting the business or undertaking must have:
- Fall preventioncontrols in place (e.g. edge protection or travel restraint system) to prevent a person falling any distance, or where this is not practicable;
- Fall arrestcontrols that arrest a person’s fall (e.g. fall arrest harness or catch platform) and prevent or minimise the risk of death or injury to a person when the fall is arrested.
Note: For work carried out 2 metres and above lower order administrative controls are not permitted on their own.
For other construction work where the risk of falling is less than 2 metres, or on a roof with a slope less than 26°
Before starting work the person conducting the business or undertaking must:
- Identifythe hazards that may result in a fall or cause death or injury if a person were to fall e.g. a picket fence or stack of bricks that could cause injury if a person fell on it; and
- Assessthe risk of death or injury that may result because of the hazard i.e. how likely is it to happen?, how serious could the injury be?; and
- Use any control measures necessary to prevent or minimise the level of risk. This could include fall prevention, fall arrest, and/or administrative controls.
To ensure you meet all the requirements I’ve provided a guideline for you.
The Risk Management process
While a risk assessment is not mandatory under WHS Regulation it is the best way to determine the measures that should be implemented to control risks. The key points in the process are:
- Identifying the hazards:This is the first step in undertaking a risk assessment. This involves finding things which could potentially cause harm to people.
- Inspect the workplace:Hazards may be identified by looking at the workplace and how work is carried out. Walk around the workplace and talk to your workers to find out where work is carried out that could result in falls. A checklist can be useful in this process.
- Review any available information including incident reports:It can be beneficial to view records of previous incidents (injuries and near misses) and worker complaints related to falls. Information and advice about fall hazards and risks and work activities are available from regulators, industry associations, technical specialists and safety consultants.
Assessing the risks
A risk assessment involves considering what could happen if someone is exposed to a hazard and the likelihood of it happening. A risk assessment can help you determine:
- How severe the risk is
- Whether any existing control measure are effective
- What action you should take to control the risk
- How urgently the action needs to be taken
Hazards and associated risks have the potential to cause different types of severities of harm ranging form minor discomfort to a serious injury or death.
Remember that if you’re working on a ladder and more than 2 metres high (for other construction work) you need to take this into account as well
If you have to undertake any work that requires you to work at height as outlined in this newsletter where the potential for a fall exists I strongly recommend you check that you have an up to date procedure in place for working at heights.
A failure to have this in place leaves you exposed to the potential of being issued an Improvement Notice or a Prohibition Notice.
If you’re unsure about undertaking a workplace inspection in relation to potential falls our best tip is to contact our office and request our checklist in relation to identifying hazards relating to falls.