AT WHAT HEIGHT IS FALL PROTECTION REQUIRED?

AT WHAT HEIGHT IS FALL PROTECTION REQUIRED?

There are many jobs in Australia that require working at heights but sadly, it is one of the highest risk activities in the industry. The statistics around injuries and deaths related to working at heights are a cause alone for undertaking a Working at Heights course. Moreover, the Government of Australia has made it mandatory for anyone whose job requires them to work at heights to possess a license / ticket authorizing them to do so. To obtain a license, you need to enroll in a Working at Heights course. Nara Training and Assessing’s nationally accredited Working at Heights course prepares participants for all safety and practical aspects of working at heights which includes the correct way to access, install and use fall protection equipment, hazard identification and risk management, current legislation in Australia and industry requirements.

The need to use fall protection systems when working at heights is obvious. Safety systems and equipment are used to access work areas safely, to stop workers, tools or materials from falling, or for safely arresting the descent of workers.

What Type of Safety Systems and Equipment Can be Used?

AT WHAT HEIGHT IS FALL PROTECTION REQUIRED?

It is essential that all safety systems and their components are inspected and installed by a competent person to ensure that they are adequate for the task and that they conform to OHS/WHS regulatory requirements and worksite policy. This includes the fitting, adjusting and anchoring of fall protection equipment.

FALL PREVENTION DEVICES

Wherever possible the need to perform work at heights should be avoided completely. If, however, this is not reasonably practicable, fall prevention devices provide the best protection against falls by working to minimise the chance of a fall ever occurring. Fall prevention devices include:

  • Temporary work platforms
  • Edge or perimeter protection systems
  • Fall protection covers and safety mesh

WORK POSITIONING SYSTEMS

A work positioning system uses equipment to allow a worker to carry out a task while being supported in a harness (in tension) to prevent a fall. This can include:

  • Industrial rope access systems these allow a worker to be vertically suspended to access a work area (such as the side of a building)
  • Restraint systems these make use of a lanyard and an anchor point or horizontal lifeline (static line)
  • It is always better to PREVENT the possibility of a fall than simply providing a fall-arrest system because of the serious dangers resulting from a worker being suspended in a harness for too long before rescue.
  • Work positioning systems require a high level of competency on the part of the user and supervisors to ensure safe use. Users, including supervisors, should undertake a competency-based course of training prior to use
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FALL-ARREST SYSTEMS

Fall-arrest systems are designed to prevent a worker or materials that has fallen from an edge, making contact with the level below. These systems include:

  • Catch platforms
  • Safety nets
  • Individual fall-arrest systems

LADDERS

Ladders should generally only be used as a means of gaining access to or egress from work areas – above or below ground, or other levels, not provided with permanent access.

However, if a worker is required to work at height and/or gain access to a place that cannot be easily reached from the floor or ground level, and no other appropriate (or practical) means of mechanical access or fixed stairway is available, a suitable portable ladder or steps may be used as a platform.

  • Fixed or Permanent Ladders

Fixed ladders are vertical, or near vertical, ladders permanently attached to a structure to be accessed. Fixed ladders used as permanent access must comply with AS 1657 Fixed Platforms, Walkways, Stairways and Ladders – Design, Construction and Installation.

  • Portable Ladders

Portable ladders are a ladder that is not permanently attached to any structure. This includes stepladders, hanging ladders and extension ladders. Portable ladders used as temporary access must comply with the AS/NZS 1892 Portable Ladders

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Last but not the least, don’t forget Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is the equipment you can wear or use to protect yourself. Every worksite will have PPE requirements and it is YOUR RESPONSIBILITY as an employee to always

  • use the PPE provided
  • follow instructions for correct use of the provided PPE
  • maintain your PPE in good condition
  • follow replacement specifications
  • adhere to safety signs
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PPE is the last line of defense for protecting you from workplace hazards but will only be effective if it is worn correctly and is adjusted to fit.

The risk assessment for the particular working at heights task will determine what PPE that you are required to wear. Companies must ensure that appropriate PPE is available for all persons working at height. Remember, when determining risk control measures, remember that PPE, including fall arrest equipment, must be used as a LAST RESORT. Other measures must be considered first.


About Nara Training

Established in 1997, Nara Training and Assessing is a leading registered training organization (RTO 4518) based in Perth and Bunbury with added ability to deliver courses on-site throughout Western Australia. Nara Training and Assessing offers accredited programs, high risk courses, short courses, Verification of Competency (VOC) and training contracts. Nara’s WorkSafe accredited trainers have an excellent reputation for providing up to date and relevant skill development to all participants.

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