Despite hearing of so many work fatalities from electrical hazards, building collapses etc. falls from height remains the biggest cause of construction worker deaths and injuries. And this isn’t unique to Australia, it is a global trend. For some reason these mostly avoidable incidents commonly occur on construction sites across the globe.
The latest incident took place on a site in Toronto, Canada after a 29 year old worker fell almost 55 floors from a building and landed on an adjacent roof.
The worker was engaged in work on the 70th floor of a condo construction site when he fell 181 metres due to a faulty clasp on his safety harness.
The following excerpt from a post on GlobalNews.ca outlines more of the tragic accident:
The incident occurred just after 12:30 p.m. at the Aura Condominium at 388 Yonge Street at Gerrard Street. The 78-storey tower is billed as “Canada’s tallest condominium.”
Kevin Raposo, who recently turned 29, was working on the 70th floor of the condo when he fell, dropping 181 metres before landing on the rooftop of the College Park Suites at 424 Yonge Street.
Toronto Fire Services Sgt. Mike Strapko said the metal clasp that holds his harness in place broke.
The force of the impact caused structural damage to the gravel rooftop. Raposo’s body remained at the scene, covered by an orange blanket, for more than seven hours before crews laid down support beams and pieces of plywood so investigators could examine it. His body was removed after dark.
Raposo worked for Verdi Alliance, which does concrete work. Friends remember him as an avid sports fan who loved heavy metal music.
When reading about this poor worker, I can’t help but thinking about how important it is to check fall protection equipment and examine before use and conduct regular maintenance.
It is vital that principal contractors develop a fall protection plan for work from heights. However a good fall protection plan is not as simple as putting on a safety harness and going to work. Training is needed to ensure it is being effectively used to minimise the risk.
The harness should be regularly maintained and kept in excellent working condition. Any harness that has been damaged should not be used but discarded.
The correct length lanyard must be used with the harness and the person’s height and the height of the work platform must be taken into consideration when calculating lanyard length.
Safety harness systems provide an invaluable assistance to workers working from heights, but should not be the only control measure.