Working safety at heights is an essential skill for anyone in the construction, demolition, utilities and building industry who is likely to be working more than 2m off the ground.
Two metres doesn’t sound like much – but it can mean the difference between going home safely, or not going home at all.
In this edition of our Safety Series, we take a look at what is classified as working at height, some common mistakes, and how to identify hazards and stay safe on site.
What are the legislative requirements for working at height?
According to SafeWork Australia, any construction work that involves a risk of falling more than 2 metres is high risk.
This means that you must prepare a Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS) before you start and ensure fall prevention equipment is used on site. If the proper safety equipment and SWMS are not in place, you could be issued with a prohibition notice by a workplace health and safety inspector.
Common mistakes when working at height
Despite the rigorous legislation in place, many workers in high-risk industries such as construction and utilities make these common mistakes. It’s important to know the hazards and ensure you always work safety
1. Not working with a mate
It’s wise to never work alone when you’re at height: having a mate there to watch your back can substantially reduce the chance of injury. Not only can a workmate quickly assist and respond if there is a fall, but you can check each other’s harness and gear, and check in with each other regularly to ensure you’re alert and don’t get complacent in the high-risk environment.
2. Not using Standards Approved safety gear
Equipment such as harnesses, roof anchors, static lines and edge protection fencing should always be Australian Standards approved and inspected for wear or damage before use.
3. Poor installation of height safety systems
Height safety systems and equipment might be well designed and meet the relevant Standards but if it’s not installed properly it can put lives at risk. Anyone installing height safety equipment should be trained, accredited, experienced and insured to install any height safety systems.
4. Not being adequately trained in height safety
There’s no excuse for poor training with the plethora of height safety training courses available. Kallibr Training (RTO 32365) runs a 1-day course covering requirements for anyone working at heights in industries such as resources and infrastructure.
Successfully completing this course will allow you to inspect, fit and use height safety equipment whilst working at heights, and you’ll come away with an official accreditation RIIWHS204E Work Safely at Heights from a Registered Training Organisation.
Essential equipment for working at height
Fall prevention equipment
It’s essential to have the right fall prevention controls in place including equipment like edge protection fencing or travel restraint systems. This specially constructed equipment is rigorously tested to ensure it will prevent a person from falling.
Fall arrest equipment
Fall arrest controls are designed to ‘arrest’ or stop a person once they are already falling. Items like fall arrest harnesses help to prevent or minimise the risk of death or injury to a person when the fall is arrested.
Comprehensive height safety training
Perhaps the most important part of planning to work safely at heights is training. A working at heights training course teaches workers how to safely plan for high risk work, follow procedures properly, and use and inspect equipment thoroughly.
On completion of height safety training, workers can gain skills and knowledge in:
- Legislative Requirements: WHS, Australian Standards and Codes of Practice
- Planning to work at Heights: Hazard management and consultation
- Following Procedures: Equipment Inspections, reporting and manufacturer’s instructions
- Working at Height: access, egress, height safety equipment use
- Conclude Work: Clean up, inspection, storage and reporting
Stay safe at heights – and visit Kallibr Training at the Safety Show!
The team from Kallibr Training will be attending Melbourne’s premier safety event, the Workplace Health and Safety Show, later this month.
Visit us on Stand F19 from 25 – 26th May, or get in touch with our team to find out more about getting a working at heights ticket.