Working safely whilst at heights
A fall hazard is potential to be displaced from one level to another, no matter the height, but obviously the greater the height the more severe the outcome. Understanding the risks associated with the work to be conducted is important in knowing if a safer alternative is available and what is reasonably practicable?
Falling from a height is a major hazard which could lead to serious injury or death and there are many ways of managing the risk of falling from one level to another. Between 2012 and 2015 more than 17,500 workers were injured after falling from a height in NSW workplaces. Twenty-five died and more than 200 were permanently disabled.
Consideration of the potential risk of falls early when designing plant or structures can result in the elimination of such risks. However, not everyone is able to capture this opportunity in the design of their brewery.
So, to prevent workers falling from one level to another, it is important to systematically use a risk assessment approach, using the hierarchy of controls, which is to try to:
- Eliminate heights – Carry out any work that involves the risk of a fall on the ground
- Work on Solid Construction – properly constructed stairs with fixed handrails, flat roofs with a parapet or permanently installed guard rails around the edges
- Utilise Safe Systems of Work – By providing:
- a fall prevention device (installing guard rails or an industrial rope access system)
- a fall-arrest system or;
- a work positioning system.
- Provide Training – Workers who are required to work at any height where there is a potential to fall and cause injury, fall from one level to another, including work in elevated work platforms, work from scaffold, are required to be compliant with local legislation and Australian Standard AS/NZS: 1891. An appropriate training course to assist with verification of competency is RIIWHS204D – Work safely at heights, this is a module which will require an external delivery partner.
Many brewers use workboxes (AKA man cages) fitted to a forklift to lift workers to tanks or racking or milling. Workers must be securely attached to the forklift carriage and the work box must be engineer-designed and constructed in accordance with AS 2359 Powered industrial trucks.
Ladders are regularly used to access places of height. Ensure if ladder is being used, that it is a temporary structure with signage clearly posted and is being used correctly, i.e. with a sufficient angle (1:4). The ladder must be adequately maintained, for commercial use and fit for purpose in accordance with AS/NZS 1892 Portable Ladders.
It is very important that a planned program of inspections and maintenance supports these control measures. The IBASafe self-inspection checklist will assist in verifying that plant and equipment is in good condition and fit for purpose.
Additionally, online Working at Heights training can also create an awareness of what may cause physical trauma as a result from a workplace fall and how these may be prevented. But if you are designing a new layout or a new piece of equipment which may have a fall risk then call the Victual hotline for some third party advice.
For more information or to get started with the IBASafe System, contact our program partners Victual