05 Oct The low-down on height safety
Working at height carries a great deal of inherent risk, and though the systems and regulations employed these days are sophisticated and rigorous, on average 26 workers are still killed each year in falls related to working at height. In this article we look at the obligations on employers and employees, and also look at the minimum height to wear a safety harness.
At what height are height safety systems required?
‘Height safety system’ is an all-encompassing term for the numerous approaches to removing and managing the risk associated with working at height. The type of system depends on the nature of the work at the environment in which it is being carried out. Determining the type of system required and installing the solution is the role of a height safety expert.
All sites are different, but generally speaking, 2 metres is the key point at which systems are required. If the height is 2 metres or more, then height safety systems are required. Similarly they are required if working within 2 metres of a fall edge.
How do you ensure your site is height safety compliant?
Employers have an obligation to ensure they provide safe working conditions for their employees and must put systems in place to control and manage the risks. As well as the physical fall prevention or protection equipment to be installed, these controls will dictate the personal protective equipment (PPE) that must be worn by the employees, including the minimum height to wear a safety harness. Employees have an obligation to work within these controls.
If an employee has concerns about the safety of a workplace, the employer must address it immediately.
What are the requirements for height safety?
If you require safe access to roof-mounted plant and equipment for your premise you may only require roof walkways to eliminate trip hazards. If your employees need to walk or work within 2 metres of a roof edge or fall hazard, your premises will require a fall prevention system such as guardrails or a static line. If the circumstances require it, a comprehensive height safety system may require the installation of several different types of fall prevention equipment.
The extent of the controls will depend on the environment. For example, the minimum height to wear a safety harness depends on factors like the work being undertaken, and the material and pitch of the roof.
What are an employer’s obligations when it comes to height safety?
Employers have an obligation to ensure that they provide safe working conditions for employees, and this is especially important when those employees are working at height.
You must ensure that your workplace is safe and compliant with height-safety workplace requirements. If you or your employees have concerns about safety, you must address the issues immediately.
What do you do if you have concerns about workplace safety?
If an employee has concerns about the safety of the workplace, regardless of whether they are related to height safety, they must stop work immediately and report the issue to a supervisor, OHS representative or a union representative. It is illegal for an employer to force an employee to continue working in unsafe conditions.
An employer has a duty of care for the safety of employees under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004. There are severe penalties for non-compliance.
So in short, if you have concerns about workplace safety, you should stop work immediately.
Height safety experts
If concerns about safety are raised, you must have your premises inspected by an expert as soon as possible. They will determine what systems are required, including a recommendation on what PPE must be worn and the minimum height to wear a safety harness.
At Australian Height Safety Services, we have more than 25 years’ experience in height safety and fall prevention. Our installation technicians are all licensed and highly experienced in the industry, and we guarantee the compliance of our fall prevention systems.
We are industry leaders in fall prevention and workplace safety. We can inspect and certify existing height safety systems as well as propose and install new systems that will ensure compliance and minimise the risk of worker injury.