Are you ensuring that everyone who works for you is fully competent to work at heights?
Do they know what procedures and practices are required when using ladders and fall protection equipment?
Young workers and apprentices
Of particular concern are young, inexperienced workers. As an employer, you are entrusted to supervise and instruct your apprentices at all times. This fact was brought home in a court finding where an ACT company was fined $140,000 after one of its apprentices was injured as a result of a fall at a worksite in August 2013. The company were installing solar panels and the apprentice, one of six on site who were left unsupervised, fell from the roof after a ladder slipped from under him. It was revealed that he had not received sufficient training and, at the time of the incident, the ladder was not being secured by any means. Additionally he had unclipped his safety harness.
Training is vital
Training must also be ongoing and constant. It is imperative that new, inexperienced employees are inducted at the commencement of work and that they are continually instructed in safe work practices. Apprentices should never be left unsupervised on site.
What can you do?
As a young worker it is important to know that you do have rights and have an expectation to feel safe in your workplace. Safe Work Australia has a section on their website dedicated to young workers. Take the time to read through this page where you will also find valuable links to the many other resources available.
As a supervisor there is also information on the Safe Work Australia website which will give insight. Workcover Qld offer a downloadable powerpoint training workshop that may prove helpful in educating supervisors and managers when dealing with young workers.
Building owners or managers can help
But this vigilance towards worker training and supervision does not stop with the employer. If you are a building owner or manager you have the same duty of care to ensure that ALL workers who are conducting work at heights on your buildings are able to perform the work safely and are fully competent to do so. You need to be confident that any sub contractors, or the people who carry out the work for you, are maintaining the same strong standards of worker health and safety that you are bringing to the workplace.
Take notice and be aware of how the work is being carried out. If you have concerns, ask the contractor and confirm that he and his workers are properly trained and that any young workers under his care are always being supervised. Pay attention to what practices are being performed and address any potential risks before they become real threats. Always communicate any issues that you see. This will help towards creating a safer work environment.
That young boy or girl who's working their first job with you or for you could be your daughter or son, brother or sister, niece or nephew, granddaughter or grandson. Wouldn't you like to know someone is looking out for them?
Do you need some help to know if your working at heights procedures are correct?
Our Working At Heights Manual gives valuable information.