Employers, are you sure you’re doing all you can to eliminate or minimise the risks of work from heights? The truth is falls from heights are the most common cause of fatalities on construction sites in Oz.

Perhaps one of the reasons why falling is such as common occurrence on construction sites is because there are so many ways in which workers are exposed to slipping, tripping and falling hazards.

A worker in Calgary landed in serious condition in hospital after he fell 4 storeys at a jobsite while engaging in construction work. It is believed that as he fell the worker struck other building surfaces before hitting the ground.

Read this excerpt from www.Cbc.ca which explains what happened:

The man.in his late 40s, was working on a building under construction at Crowchild Trail and 53rd Street N.W. around 7:30 a.m. Saturday when he apparently fell.

“Initial concerns were the significant height of the fall for concerns of internal injuries,” said Stuart Brideaux with Calgary EMS. “He may have struck other building surfaces before he touched the ground.”

The man’s co-workers provided first aid until emergency crews arrived, Brideaux said.

Occupational Health and Safety is expected to investigate the incident.

According to paramedics, any fall of a distance over 10 feet is considered quite serious.

The worker fell roughly forty feet.

Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/story/2013/06/15/calgary-construction-worker-scaffold-hth.html

Although each workplace will conduct their own risk assessment and have varying control measures introduced these are some examples of the measures that can be undertaken

  • Temporary work platforms

Risks must be controlled through the use of stable and securely fenced work platforms (such as scaffolding or other forms of portable work platform).

  • Guardrails

Guardrails should only be used in situations when it is not reasonably practicable to use temporary work platforms.The perimeter of buildings, structures, pits, tanks, floor openings, etc, should have guardrails to stop people falling over the edge. The guardrails should have the necessary strength so that they are able to withstand the impact of a person falling against them.

  • Fall arrest systems

Fall arrest systems should only be used in situations when it is not reasonably practicable to use either temporary work platforms or guardrails. Fall arrest equipment such as harnesses and lanyards can be used as travel restriction systems to prevent workers moving from safe to unsafe areas.

  • Training is one of the key ways of teaching workers how to overcome fall hazards. Training in the form of site specific safety training as well as white card training can educate workers about the risks and control measures to overcome fall hazards.

One of the topics covered by the White Card course is Slips, Trips and Falls. Slips, trips and falls contribute to a large amount of injuries on construction sites particularly causing musculoskeletal injuries. Sprains, strains, cuts, bruises, fractions and even death can result from a fall from a height. Even falls from relatively low heights can be serious and possibly fatal which is yet another reason why White Card training should not just be an option but a priority for every worker entering the building industry.


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