We have spoken many times about the dangers associated with work from heights and why it is so important than any work from a height above 2 metres is properly managed, including provision of the proper work from heights plan.
Although most people don’t think a fall from 2 or 3 metres could result in serious injury, the fact is that many people have been injured by falls even from relatively low heights. Some have even suffered fatal injuries after falling from these levels.
Also if this weren’t such a pertinent issue, then we wouldn’t be hearing of workers suffering from injuries sustained from falls from height on almost a daily basis.
Part of providing a safe work environment and a safe system of work includes having a work from heights safety policy in place regardless of the size of your company or site, so smaller companies also have no excuse for allowing safety mistakes.
After the hazards have been identified and the risks assessed, if they cannot be removed they must be controlled. When it comes to working from heights this may involve fall prevention or fall arrest systems etc. A risk assessment will determine the type of controls implemented.
Once the adequate controls have been determined, they are still not going to be of any use unless workers on site are aware of them. It is not enough to simply undergo White Card training and then begin working on a site. Workers should receive site specific training before work begins and also regularly thereafter as the site, its hazards and controls change.
Employers should not just provide workers with fall protection systems and expect them to know how to utilise them. Once a plan has been developed, workers must be trained on this work from height safety plan. Employers must thereafter ensure that the plan is being adhered to, supervision of workers on site is paramount to ensuring safety.
Get to know what Australian legislation says about work from heights and abide by it.
A good way of ensuring that workers are abiding by the safety plan, in addition to supervision, is to promote communication on site.
Workers should be encouraged to communicate about safety, not only to each other but to you the employer and management as well. Workers should feel free to raise any safety questions they may have and employers should provide written and verbal communication for employees to become familiarised with site safety plans. Weekly or regular safety meetings can facilitate this open communication.
Also remember to review your work from heights safety plan regularly. As the construction progresses, the safety needs will change and the plan needs to change along with it. Once changes are implemented workers must be informed and trained accordingly.
A post on a Construction Safety Blog SimplifiedSafety.com summed it up like this,
Research your hazards, solutions, equipment and other regulatory issues. Write your plan. Train to it. Enforce it. Re-evaluate your program and re-train employees when necessary. Then, and only then will your plan come together.