You've won the tender but now the hard part begins - the build. Everything is specified down to the nuts and bolts, but what about roof access and fall protection?
Many architects or building designers will leave the design and installation of roof access and height safety systems to the builder, quoting clauses like “Provide compliant roof safety system to Australian Standards”. Without the exact equipment being specified this puts you, the builder, in the difficult position of being required to design and install roof access and fall protection systems on your constructions.
According to the WHS Act 2011* - The duty of persons conducting businesses or undertakings that install, construct or commission plant or structures "must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that the way in which the plant or structure is installed, constructed or commissioned ensures that the plant or structure is without risks to the health and safety of persons who use the plant or structure at a workplace for a purpose for which it was installed, constructed or commissioned."
Putting it simply, it is your responsibility to provide systems are safe, fit for purpose and correctly installed.
Unless your design team is up to date with all the standards, regulations and design criteria they may select the wrong products. Roof access and fall protection systems must be specifically designed for each individual building and application.
To mitigate their responsibility and reduce time and stress builders will often go to an external company to assist them with their needs. But how can you know that the company you select is up to the task?
Firstly, begin with research. Look at any potential installer's range of products. Are they compliant to Australian Standards? Is the company aware of the design criteria and which equipment should be used to service what areas? Have they clarified how often the systems will be used? This can be a key component in selection. Do they supply handover documentation including user manuals, As-Built system layout plans, product certifications and warranties?
Cost can also be an indication. Quotes that come in considerably lower than others may be because of a number of factors including incorrect product selection, poor design and haphazard installation. Although sometimes it is easy to go with the first and cheapest quote this can often be detrimental to both you and your client. There have been many instances where equipment has been installed and when personnel have come to perform work the systems are sub standard, unfit for the required purpose and/or dangerously installed. This can lead to bad relationships with your clients, not to mention the legal implications should systems fail workplace inspections or worse still, compromise safety.
Cutting costs and using non qualified or unskilled height safety installers can lead to extremely unhappy clients, increasing their liability and making them vulnerable to litigation in the event of an accident occurring.
When you are making the decision to design, commission or install height safety equipment it cannot be emphasised enough that compliance should always be the number one factor in any design.
Falls from height continues to remain the second highest cause of workplace fatality and the necessity for designing correct fall protection systems has never been more vital.