11 Jul An Ultimate Guide to Height Safety & Fall Protection
Height safety is not something to be taken lightly. Cutting even the tiniest corners or failing to meet the most minor regulations can put lives at stake. Working at heights comes with serious risks, and it is the job of an employer and supervisor to protect their employees effectively. To help make this important topic more accessible and understandable, we’ve put together an ultimate guide to height safety, fall protection, and workplace regulations. Read on as we break down what height safety is, why it matters, and how you can better protect all employees working from a height on your worksite.
For personalised advice, contact our team at Australian Height Safety Services today.
Height Safety Equipment: What is Height Safety and Fall Protection?
Simply put, the term ‘height safety’ refers to all the measures taken to ensure safe practices within any workplace that deals with work at heights. There are various industries that will encounter working at heights, though it is especially common for builders and people working on roofs to need to implement height safety measures to meet Australian height safety standards. Height safety equipment is there to protect anyone working from a height, preventing accidents and injuries of any form taking place.
Fall protection specifically refers to measures put in place that prevent a person from falling from heights and lower the risk of injury or death in the case of a fall. What constitutes adequate fall protection can differ depending on the location of work and the details of the job at hand. Australian laws and guidelines will dictate the safety procedures, fall protection systems, and personal equipment needed to adequately protect your team.
Height safety and fall protection are crucial to the physical well-being and safety of employees and contractors. Completing tasks at a height can lead to injury, lifelong disability, and even death. Therefore, putting the right measures in place is imperative.
Most Common Causes of Accidents
Using whatever equipment you have available simply isn’t going to do the trick. At the end of the day, the single most common cause of accidents due to working at heights is working with the wrong equipment. If you want to keep yourself and your team safe, then thoroughly researching the kinds of equipment needed for your job and the best providers on the market should be your top priority. All height safety equipment used should suit the task at hand, adhere to strict safety guidelines, and be used in correct and appropriate ways.
Here are just a few of the other most common causes of accidents on height work projects:
- Not delaying work when adverse weather conditions such as rain, ice, and severe winds pose a risk to workers
- Failing to secure fall protection around edges such as walkways or unprotected scaffolding
- Using uncertified or poorly maintained height safety equipment
- Working on fragile surfaces such as skylights or cement-roof sheeting, which can collapse under the weight of a worker
- Not providing necessary levels of training to teach workers how to use height safety equipment effectively and correctly
Risks and Consequences of Falls from Heights
Working from all heights can come with severe risks and consequences. Falling from several stories high poses an obvious risk of fatality and lifelong injuries, but even falling from just a couple of metres can pose extremely dangerous risks. Any work done from two metres high or within two metres of a falling edge requires height safety measures under Australian regulation due to the serious consequences that can come from falling from these surfaces. Landing on the wrong part of the body or a hard surface can bring about devastatingly dangerous consequences for a worker. Some of the common risks of falls from height include:
- Paralysis of the body
- Broken bones
- Traumatic brain damage
- Spinal injuries
- Damage to vital organs
- Loss of limbs
- Blinding or loss of eyes
Importance of Height Safety Equipment
Every year, an average of 26 lives are lost in Australian workplaces as a direct result of a fall from height. This is a devastating statistic to truly consider – losing lives brings an immeasurable amount of heartbreak, with countless loved ones affected. At the end of the day, height safety equipment and processes are designed to prevent as many of these horrific accidents as possible.
Correctly implementing and operating height safety equipment can take time and work, but the benefits drastically outweigh the time and research needed. Height safety is all about protecting the lives of those you work with. By utilising the correct systems and investing in the best possible equipment, you are creating a workplace that protects the lives of those working there. Often, height safety equipment goes by without much thought – it is only when an accident takes place that people see the true value of top-quality equipment and fall systems. Don’t wait until you learn the hard way. Invest in the best height safety equipment on the market today to protect your worksite for years to come.
Choosing the Right Height Safety Equipment
If you want to ensure worker safety, then choosing the correct height safety equipment is imperative. Failing to do so can hinder your compliance with Australian laws, standards, and codes of practice. Australian legislation dictates that any person conducting projects working from a height should implement the highest control measure that is reasonably practicable for the job at hand. This is ultimately your guide: you should choose the strongest measures that are reasonable for your project, as this is the best way to protect your team.
There are two key factors to consider when choosing the right height safety equipment for your site: a comprehensive assessment of risk, and what is ‘reasonably practicable’ to implement. Essentially, this means you need to know how dangerous the job is and what the highest safety standards you can justifiably put in place are.
Ensuring Compliance with Height Safety Regulations in Australia
There are several factors to consider in regard to your compliance with Australian height safety regulations. Being compliant isn’t just a matter of ticking the right boxes for your project to go ahead – it is all about guaranteeing the safety of everyone on your team. Compliance should be a top priority at all times, and there are various factors you need to consider to best protect your workplace.
Australian regulations outline that if any staff or contractors are required to work at a height of over two metres or within two metres of a fall edge, then you will need height safety and fall protection equipment. A qualified height safety professional must also design and install the equipment after they determine what is required for your workplace to achieve full compliance. This will include the type of equipment needed and installation requirements. Walkways, anchor points, guard rails, ladders, and more could be required.
If you aren’t certain that your workplace is fully compliant with Australian codes of practice, then you must have the site inspected by a height safety professional.
Implementing a Height Safety Plan at Your Workplace
When you’re starting from scratch, the notion of creating and implementing a height safety plan at your workplace can feel daunting. The consequences of failing to put a safety plan in place, however, vastly outweigh the challenges of adequately protecting your team. Here is a quick breakdown of the steps to take if you’re implementing a workplace height safety plan for the first time:
- Research and understand your legal obligations.
- Conduct a comprehensive risk assessment of the site and job at hand.
- Figure out the highest measures of safety that are reasonably practical.
- Install the appropriate height safety systems and improve or replace existing equipment as needed.
- Fully train all workers on how to effectively, correctly, and safely use all equipment onsite.
- Ensure that nobody is able to access the site or reach the heights in question unless they are completely trained and confident in the equipment required.
- Communicate all aspects of the safety plan, safety standards, and compliance requirements with your team to ensure everybody is on the same page.
- Create and provide comprehensive accident and rescue plans in the case of an emergency.
- Schedule dates for ongoing maintenance and recertification to ensure the long-term safety of your workplace.
- Continue to research changes in regulations or available equipment to make sure that you always have the correct height safety measures in place.
Training to Use Height Safety Systems
If you want your workplace to be safe and compliant, then adequate training is essential. All employees and contractors are required to receive comprehensive height safety training that provides knowledge on how to safely work at heights. They need to have an understanding of the mechanics of hazard control, the forces created during a fall, and specific hazards that come from particular fall protection systems. This could include suspension trauma and the pendulum effect.
All workers need to understand the specific safety systems in place at your site. They need to be not only familiar with how they work but competent in operating them. If somebody does not have physical proof of having completed appropriate training, they should not be able to use any height safety system onsite.
Your Height Safety Questions Answered
What is height safety?
Height safety is an overarching term that covers all equipment, measures, and protocols that prevent falls and injuries from working at heights.
Can an employee refuse to work at a height?
All Australian workers have the right to refuse any work that they believe to be unsafe. If somebody believes that completing a task at a height poses a risk to their health and safety, they are able to follow specific workplace guidelines to notify their supervisor. Any safety concerns must then be addressed and investigated.
What is the Hierarchy of Control for Working at Heights?
The hierarchy of control is a risk control system designed to help clearly identify and manage risks. The system ranks control measures from most and least protection in terms of the person working at a height, with the first measure being the best possible solution. The Hierarchy of Control for Working at Heights is as follows:
- Elimination of risk
- Reduction of risk through substitution, isolation, or engineering controls
- Personal protective equipment
- Administrative controls
What are the four types of fall protection?
The four types of fall protection are:
- Elimination of the hazard
- Fall prevention through barriers or guardrails
- Fall restraint or arrest to stop someone from entering fall zones or stopping falls after they occur
- Administrative controls and procedures to better manage the risk of falls, such as effective signage or staff training
How do I choose the right height safety equipment?
In order to choose the right height safety measures, you need to thoroughly analyse the risks involved in the job and what safety processes can be reasonably implemented to protect your team. The best way to ensure compliance and safety is to consult a height safety professional for detailed advice.
Do height safety systems and equipment require training?
In accordance with Australian safety laws and regulations, employers are legally responsible for ensuring that anyone who uses their height safety systems is adequately trained. Employees and contractors need to be informed on how to work from a height safely, how to correctly use equipment, and how to minimise risks.
Contact Australian Height Safety Services for All Your Fall Protection Needs
When it comes to height safety, you cannot settle for anything less than the best of the best.
Here at Australian Height Safety Services, we do far more than simply ensure regulatory compliance. Ticking the right boxes is the least important part of height safety – our work is all about protecting the health and safety of all workers and personnel. We provide height safety equipment and fall prevention systems. With the highest quality of products engineered and manufactured in Australia, all equipment we provide is built to exceed regulations and standards. Contact our team today to discuss your workplace needs and get your questions answered by Asutralia’s height safety experts.