Nothing highlights the importance of compliant roof access & fall protection systems more than this incident on a NSW building site.
This is an actual case which was documented and relayed to us by one of our accredited installers.
A 3Sixty anchor was installed to provide fall arrest protection to the roof of a large manufacturing building. A contractor was then employed to install two roof vents. Penetrations for the vents were made in the roof but the contractor lost his footing and a fall occurred. Fortunately the rope lanyard arrested the restrained fall moments before the operator reached the fall edge.
What devices prevented the fall?
At the time of the incident the worker was wearing a safety harness which was connected to a 3Sixty anchor, both of which are designed to arrest a fall within seconds of it occurring. Although this type of protection is one of the least preferred options in the hierarchy of control, it is still a useful system to employ when other means are not practicable. There is no doubt that the 3Sixty anchor saved this operator's life by arresting his fall quickly and securely.
With fall arrest - seconds count
Arresting the fall as quickly as possible was a key factor when it came to minimising operator injury. According to Isaac Newton's Law of Universal Gravitation:
- In 1 second a person will have fallen 4.9 metres and will be travelling at 35 kmph
- In 3 seconds a person will have fallen 44 metres and will be travelling at 106 kmph
- In just 5 seconds a person will have fallen 122 metres and will be travelling at 176 kmph
Therefore, the quicker a fall is arrested, less distance is travelled with reduced speed which will in turn cause less impact to the operator when the fall is arrested.
Other contributory information
It would appear that worker training may have also played a part in this incident. It is vital that workers are trained correctly and supervised by qualified personnel so that the systems in place can do their job effectively. Read our Working at Heights Manual to ensure that you are maintaining a safe work environment for all personnel. Take a Height Safety Health Check now and assess your risk. We are extremely proud of the fact that to date our systems can take credit for saving six lives. This is our driving force and emphasises to us just how important our job is. Need help to make your workplace safer? Ask us how!