Working at height is one of the most dangerous activities that workers can undertake and falls from heights can result in serious injuries or even death. However, it is easy to underestimate the risks involved when you are not personally carrying out the tasks.
It’s extremely important to understand the hazards that personnel or potential workers on your buildings, building designs or worksites may be exposed to when working at height and to take appropriate measures to remove or minimise them.
1. I’m a Building Owner. Any subcontractors who work on my building roofs are not my responsibility.
According to Section 19 of the WHS Act as a Building Owner/Manager/PCBU (Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking) it is your responsibility to ensure as ‘reasonably practicable’ the health and safety of any workers (employees and/or subcontractors) carrying out activities on your building. This includes anybody working at heights.
The WHS ACT outlines the duties and responsibilities of Building Owners/Managers/PCBUs. This includes the requirement to provide a safe working environment, assess and control risks, and provide adequate training and supervision for workers. Failure to comply with these legal obligations can result in serious consequences.
With the introduction of Workplace Manslaughter Laws in force throughout Australia, should a death occur Building Owners/Managers can now be fined, charged and imprisoned if they are found to culpable or negligent.
2. All subcontractors who work on my buildings are fully trained.
You must never presume that all personnel are trained and skilled in the use of height safety equipment. Always ask the subcontractor for relevant licences and provide training when and if required. Ensure that all young or inexperienced workers are always supervised. Any work at height should not carried out alone.
To assist those working on your premises and operating your equipment you should provide detailed operation manuals which will give them the necessary information on the safe use of equipment.
Read our article “Are All Your Workers Trained” for more information.
3. I’m a Designer. There is no real requirement for me to specify compliant fall protection systems.
If you are an Architect, Engineer or Building Designer you have an obligation under Section 22 of the WHS Act. This Act states you have a duty to ensure that the design does not pose risks to people when working in or around the building structure.
There are many factors that must be addressed when adding access and fall protection equipment to your designs. While it may seem an easy height safety solution to simply pop a few anchors on a roof, ensuring you have a fully compliant and functioning life saving system requires a lot more consideration. Design layout, equipment selection, system location and functionality must all be carefully taken into account.
SAYFA can help with your Height Safety System Design. Contact us now for a DESIGN CONSULTANCY.
4. Why do I need to invest more time or money when we already have height safety systems installed?
It is not enough to have fall protection systems installed. They must be properly and regularly checked, maintained, and recertified when required. When you are sending any person up to your roofs remember that working at heights is a high risk activity and needs to be regarded as such.
As the majority of access and fall protection systems are located in exterior locations they are subject to a wide variation in weather conditions and they must be checked thoroughly before use for any deterioration. Always refer to the manufacturer’s recommendations in regards to maintenance and recertification requirements.
Always refer to the manufacturer’s recommendations in regards to maintenance and recertification requirements.
5. We only access the roof occasionally. It’s just not worth spending money on systems up there.
Building owners may prioritise cost-cutting over safety considerations, particularly in situations where they feel that height safety measures are not essential or are too expensive to implement. However, this type of mindset can lead to serious consequences and should an incident occur can end up costing much more.
It should always be every workplace’s priority to ensure that all workers are provided with the highest degree of fall protection possible. Spending money on height protection equipment and systems is never a waste when lives are at risk.
How long since your access and fall protection systems have been audited. Contact SAYFA on 1300 301 755 or [email protected]. We can put you in touch with a qualified Height Safety Specialist who can conduct an assessment on your systems. They can provide a report of any compliance issues, suggested improvements or modifications that need to be implemented to ensure your obligations are being met.