This image, recently shared by Worksafe Victoria, has sent shockwaves throughout the height safety industry
An incorrectly installed static line anchor plate, mismatched components from various manufacturers and an obvious total lack of the inspection process to ensure compliance.
Thankfully this system has never been required to perform a fall arrest but what if it had? How effective do you think it would have been? It was noted that it had only been screwed into the roof sheets and was able to be removed by hand!
Let's examine what went wrong.
At the top of the list would be a failure to follow the manufacturer's specifications and instructions. Installation of fall arrest equipment should always be into the structure with the fixings as specified by the manufacturer. Rigourous testing has been done by manufacturers to calculate how equipment must be installed to ensure maximum protection to the worker in the event of a fall and their requirements must always be followed. It is imperative that installation is performed by persons who are trained in the safe use, selection and design of height safety equipment. The person in control of the workplace must ensure that the people who are carrying out installations have the necessary qualifications.
There is no way to know how a system will perform if it is made up of different components from different manufacturers. When manufacturers conduct their tests they do so with the particular components of their systems and replacing any of these components will make the system react unpredictably. Non standard components may have differing levels of safety ratings which can also mean they may not reliably perform in the event of a fall arrest. A non proprietary system with mismatched components should not be certified as compliant unless it can be proved by testing or an Engineer's Certificate that the system and attachment to the structure will perform effectively in a fall arrest situation.
It would only take a brief inspection by a competent person to highlight the safety issues here. It is simply not enough to have systems installed; they must be maintained and inspected as recommended by the manufacturer. Inspections must be conducted by a competent height safety inspector and any issues with non-compliance require that the system be tagged out of use and corrective action undertaken prior to use. If systems are presumed to be compliant without being inspected and certified, workers are at extreme risk due to the failure of the system to perform correctly in the event of a fall.
By using reputable, competent installers and proprietary systems we can ensure our workers are kept safe when working at heights.
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