Working at heights can be dangerous, and it’s important to take safety seriously. Unfortunately, there are many myths about height safety that can put workers at risk. By understanding the truth behind these myths, you can stay safe on the job and avoid potentially deadly accidents.
1. “It’s not really that high … I don’t need safety gear.”
This is one of the most dangerous myths about height safety. The truth is that safety gear, such as harnesses and lanyards, are essential for protecting workers from falls. Over 30% of fatalities from falls at height are from 3 metres or below, due to personnel working around edges that they think do not pose a risk.
Even if you are only working at a low height, accidents can still happen. You may be surprised to learn that it takes less than 1 second to fall 2 metres. No one’s reflexes are able to respond that fast.
Always wear the appropriate safety gear and make sure it is properly fitted and secured to ensure you are not taking unnecessary risks with your safety.
2. “I can use the same anchor for any application.”
3. “Safe Work Method Statements (SWMS) are a waste of time and not really necessary.”
Not only are SWMS an essential part of assessing risks at the workplace, they are also mandatory for any high risk work.
SWMS are extremely useful in assessing the job being undertaken, highlighting potential risks or hazards and setting out effective control measures. Safe Work Method Statements specify:
- The details of the work that is considered high risk
- The health and safety hazards relating to the work
- The control measures that need to be implemented to minimise or remove the risks
- How the control measures will be actioned
- When they be monitored and reviewed
Download a copy of a Safe Work Method Statement from Safe Work Australia’s website.
Ignoring safety regulations or considering them a hassle can lead to serious injuries or even fatalities. It’s important to take safety regulations seriously and follow them at all times, even if it may seem inconvenient or time-consuming. Your safety and the safety of those around you should always be the top priority.
4. “All systems can suit multiple users at one time.”
Each system is designed for a specific number of users and failing to pay attention to system limitations can lead to system failure. Different types of fall protection equipment are designed for different types of work and have different weight and user capacities.
Be sure to check the SWMS before climbing onto the roof, and never exceed the maximum user count.
5. “I’ve always done it this way, I’ll be fine.”
Just because you’ve always done a certain task in a particular way, does not mean it is correct or best practice. Complacency is one of the biggest challenges in height safety. Falls from height can happen to anyone at any time. Standards and methodologies change over the years, and it’s important to make sure you are always up to date and aware of the latest height safety standards. Learn more about the latest Standards, Regulations and Guidelines by viewing our KNOW THE LAW page.
6. “The system or equipment is in place so it must be compliant.”
Just because a system or equipment is already installed doesn’t mean it is compliant or safe to use.
Always ensure that the system has been checked and recertified by a Height Safety Specialist and that no components are out of service or out of date.
7. “I’m wearing a harness and connected to an anchor point. I must be safe.”
Simply wearing a harness and being connected to an anchor does not always guarantee your safety.
When using a harness and lanyard it is essential you have calculated fall distance, lanyard length, energy absorber extension, height of person and residual clearance so that there is no likelihood of hitting any structures below in the event of a fall. (Learn how to calculate fall distance.)
You should also ensure that there is no slack rope line between the user and the anchor – refer to our Harness Gear Operation Manual (Safe Use Procedure) for more information.
8. “I can depend on my co-workers to keep me safe.”
While SAYFA recommends that persons using fall arrest systems do not work alone in case of an emergency or if a rescue situation arises, it is also a dangerous myth to depend solely on your co-workers for your own safety.
Each person is responsible for their own safety and should take the necessary precautions to protect themselves. Additionally, your co-workers may not always be aware of potential hazards or may even make mistakes that could put you at risk. Always prioritise your own safety and use the proper safety equipment and procedures.
9. “I don’t need training to use fall protection equipment.”
Using fall protection equipment incorrectly or improperly can be just as dangerous as not using it at all. It is essential to receive proper training on the use of fall protection equipment.
For anyone who may be working at height, regardless of their profession they must know how to use safety equipment correctly and how to identify potential hazards. Failing to do this can lead to serious accidents and injuries. It’s also vitally important for employers to provide adequate training and for workers to follow safety protocols.
10. “I don’t need a rescue plan.”
We cannot predict when a fall will occur and to whom. Having a rescue plan ensures the victim can be rescued safely should a fall occur, with no further injury. If a fall occurs and there is no rescue plan, the victim can be subject to further injury, suspension trauma or even death.
Remember, fall protection is critical for working safely at any height. It is important to understand the proper use and limitations of fall protection equipment and to receive proper training before using it.