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Safe work at heights. Falls. Are a major cause of work related fatalities and serious injuries in Australia. Within the Department, falls from height accounts for approximately 7% of compensable injuries. There are specific regulations relating to the management of fall hazards. .

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Safe work at heights


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    1. Safe work at heights

    2. Falls • Are a major cause of work related fatalities and serious injuries in Australia. • Within the Department, falls from height accounts for approximately 7% of compensable injuries. • There are specific regulations relating to the management of fall hazards. 

    3. Definitions • Fall - a fall by a person from one level to another. • Falling object – an unsecured object (e.g. a spanner) falling from height can cause serious injuries if controls are not implemented to eliminate or minimise the associated risks. • Fall hazard means a circumstance that exposes a worker in a workplace to a risk of a fall that is reasonably likely to cause injury to the worker or other person.

    4. Legislation Work Health and Safety Act 2011 Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 (Part 4.4 Falls) Code of Practice – Managing the risk of falls in workplaces 2011

    5. Key legislative elements • Legislation applies to falls from one level to another i.e. from any height. • A new five-level hierarchy of controls specifically for work at heights hasreplaced the generic hierarchy of controls (elimination, substitution, engineering, PPE, administrative controls). • Ladders and administrative controls are now only to be used as a last resort when it is not reasonably practicable to use higher level controls. • If ladders or administrative controls are used for fall hazards over 2 metres, a record must be made of the control to be used and a reason why higher controls were not reasonably practicable

    6. Department resources to assist with compliance • Working at Heights DETE Guideline • Working at Heights Inspection Tool • Risk Assessment Template for working at height • SWMS Template for work where risk of fall is >2m • Generic heights equipment SOPs • Regional Senior Health and Safety Consultants Note: There is a prohibition on Department staff, students and volunteers being on, or working on roofs at all state school facilities

    7. Examples of incidents in the Department • Fell when standing on a fence and cutting down a tree • Hammer fell from storage rack, striking person’s foot • Fell off stage • Cleaning fans on a ladder, stepped back and fell • Fell off roof cleaning gutters • Standing on ladder reaching to spray wasp nest and fell on iron gate • Fell off roof when doing roof maintenance • Standing on desk winding a high window, fell backwards • Overbalanced while standing on chair to write on the blackboard • Hanging artwork in room, fell backwards off a desk

    8. What is a fall hazard? A fall hazard is an anything that exposes a worker or another person to the risk of a fall that may injure them.

    9. Common Fall Hazards in the Department • Retrieving items from the roofs (e.g. balls, shoes) • Cleaning roof gutters • Cleaning high windows, fans • Changing light bulbs • Opening/closing out of reach windows • Hanging classroom displays • Accessing items on high shelving

    10. Common Fall Hazards cont… Easy access to roofs (poor design) Working on roofs Using ladders Working on fragile, slippery or sloping surfaces

    11. A risk assessment process aims to remove fall hazards or reduce the level of their risk by adding precautions to keep you and others safe. • The process is: • Identify fall hazards. • Evaluate the risk associated with any • hazards. • Determine appropriate ways to eliminate • or control the hazard. • By controlling the risks, you have created a safer work environment for you and others. What is a risk assessment?

    12. Control Measures for Fall Risks  • Follow the Five Level Hierarchy of Controls…….(Level 1 is safest, Level 5 the least effective). • Work your way down the hierarchy when deciding on control measures. Only move to a lower level where it is not “reasonably practicable” to use a higher order control. • Allocate budget and resources to ensure that falling hazards are eliminated or minimised.

    13. Five Level Hierarchy of Controls Level 1: Perform the work on the ground or on a solid construction. Level 2: Use a passive fall prevention device e.g. cherry picker, install guard rails, mobile scaffold. Level 3: Use a work positioning system e.g. a travel restraint system Level 4: Use a fall arrest system Level 5: Use a ladder or administrative control

    14. Level 1: Perform Work from Ground or Solid Construction Level 1 – the best control measures Ask yourself: Do I really need top work at height? If you don’t need to go up, then don’t! Examples: • Use a long handled device to clean high windows, gutters, change signboards etc. • Use a contractor to complete work

    15. Level 2: Passive Fall Prevention Device Passive devices are used for temporary work at heights and are designed to prevent workers from falling. Once in place they do not require any further adjustment by workers using the device.

    16. Level 3: Work Positioning System CONTRACTOR ONLY These systems involve the use of equipment that allows a person to work supported in a harness under tension in such a way that a fall is prevented. Example • A skilled contractor uses a travel restraint system when performing work on a roof

    17. Level 4: Fall Arrest System CONTRACTOR ONLY Level 4 systems minimise injury once a fall has occurred rather than avoiding it in the first place. They should NOT be used unless: • the operator is trained, has a high level of skill, and undertakes ongoing training. • systems undergo regular inspection. • there is at least one other competent person present to perform a rescue in case of a fall.

    18. Level 5: Use a Ladder or Administrative Controls These options may only be considered if it is not reasonably practicable to use any of the higher order controls. Ladders should only be used: • as a work platform for light work of short duration. • if they are manufactured for industrial use and have a load rating of ≥120kg. Many falls take place when people are working from ladders.

    19. Level 5: Use a Ladder or Administrative Controls Administrative controls are also Level 5 controls. These are systems of work or work procedures that help to reduce the exposure of employees to fall hazards where it is not reasonably practicable to use higher level controls. They may also be used to support other control measures that are put in place.

    20. Training • Employees should be trained in safe operations before attempting to do any activities involving fall hazards. • Training is to be commensurate with the level of risk and types of controls to be used. • Some plant, machinery and activities require specific training and licencing. Eg: erection of scaffold.

    21. Department risk management processes

    22. Can you install good quality gutter guard to eliminate the need to clean gutters? Common example – gutter cleaning Identify and remove tree branches that are located too close to buildings and result in leaves etc. blocking gutters.

    23. Common example – high shelves Use a long handled device to retrieve balls/bags/shoes on the roof or out of reach items on high shelves

    24. Common example – high windows/lights • Can you use a step platform ladder instead of a step ladder? • Can high windows be opened using a long handled tool or device? • Avoid opening high windows if they are difficult to access

    25. Key Messages • Eliminate the need to perform tasks that expose persons to a risk of falling • The new Five Level Hierarchy of Controls is to be followed to decide upon control measures • Stay off ladders if at all possible – they should be used as a last resort • Under no circumstances should chairs, tables, shelves etc. be used to gain access to heights. • Only persons who have been trained and who are deemed to be competent should perform activities that involve fall hazards. • Allocate budget and resources to ensure that fall hazards are eliminated or minimised