The QLD Workplace Health & Safety Regulations is very clear on the obligations of employers with regard to height safety. All employers must first and foremost try to eliminate or minimise the risk of an employee falling at the workplace. When selecting a control measure for the hazard of working at heights, it is imperative that the highest order, most effective option is selected, such as edge protection, restraint systems, or covers over openings. These types of controls prevent a person from reaching a position where they may fall or remove the fall potential all together. This type of controls must be considered / used before Fall-Arrest type equipment or systems.
Fall Prevention rather than Fall-Arrest……………. it’s that simple. For too long employers wrongly selected and implemented Fall-arrest as their primary control when working at heights. If you stop to think about it, that’s like telling your employees that our company doesn’t have the resources to stop you from falling but when you do fall we will catch you and stop you from hitting the ground. Sure…….. you have the potential to strike something on the way down and sure………… you might suffer neck damage and/or suspension trauma (Harness Hang Syndrome). In this day and age, that’s just not on! Every company in Australia most certainly has the ability to prevent the fall from occurring in the first place, but many aren’t aware of the options. Harness manufacturer’s are partly to blame. Over the years several have been too eager to sell Fall-arrest equipment. Why? It might have something to do with on-selling extra equipment such and rescue systems. We are all aware that whenever using a fall-arrest system or device, you must consider the ability to recover a fallen person in a few short minutes. So if you use a Fall-arrest harness or system, you need a recovery/rescue system too.
Why not put the extra money and time you would expend on the rescue/recovery system into preventing the fall in the first place? No Fall Potential………No need for being Rescued.
More and more companies throughout Australia are adopting this philosophy. Prevention before Fall-Arrest. Ensuring effective edge protection, using Mobile Elevating Work Platforms and using Fall Prevention (Restraint) systems and techniques when Personal Protective Equipment must be used, should be the first things on our minds.
Another way to look at it is by asking the question,
WHY DO WE SPEND SO MUCH TIME AND MONEY TRAINING UP EMERGENCY RESPONSE PERSONNEL TO RESCUE THOSE WHO HAVE FALLEN?
Think about it. It takes months and months to effectively train rescue team members in rope access and rope rescue techniques. On many industrial sites, a team of workers are assigned the extra responsibility of reacting in the event someone has fallen and is hanging in a harness. Their training is intense and forever ongoing.
Now here is the next question.
WHY NOT TRAIN EVERYONE WHO PUTS ON A HARNESS IN RESTRAINT TECHNIQUES SO THE POTENTIAL TO FALL IS VIRTUALLY ELIMINATED?
Especially when this type of training takes about the same amount of time that Fall-Arrest Harness training takes.
It really is that simple. Let the team at OSCA help you switch from being REACTIVE to being PROACTIVE and PREVENT THE FALL in the first place.
Download the combined RIIWHS204D Work safely at heights and RIIWHS202D Enter and work in confined spaces brochure.