The Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Institute has published the key national statistics on WSH as at end third quarter of 2016. The report shows that the construction industry still remains the main source of fatal injuries. Leading causes of fatal injury are Falls from Heights, in Q1-Q3 2016 five fatals injuries were caused by falls from roofs.
These statistics unfortunately demonstrate that work at height, particularly roof related tasks, are extremely hazardous so it is important for companies to ensure that there are adequate means of protection for all work at height activities.
Assessing the Risks
Companies have a duty to ensure the health and safety of not only their own employees but also contractors who carry out work on their behalf. This is particularly important when it comes to repair and maintenance work as often there will be a variety of contractors who require access to a roof area throughout the year. Accessing a roof twice a year should be treated as a frequent activity.
The first step in ensuring safe access is to carry out a risk assessment. This will determine whether work can be changed to remove the risk and, if not, what measures need to be put in place in order to ensure work can be carried out safely. When assessing roof safety, you must consider how frequently access is required.
Looking at maintenance work in particular, roofs typically house a variety of plant and equipment, all positioned in different areas around the roof. For example, air conditioning plant, emergency lighting, fixed equipment used for window cleaning, flues and filters, electrical, gas and water services, soil pipes and gutters, security equipment and telecommunications. Access may also be required from one plant room to another or for general roof repairs and maintenance purposes. All this will need to be assessed and safe systems put in place to ensure the safety of maintenance workers accessing the area. Once the risk assessment has been completed, the main priority must always be to provide a safe environment and prevent falls from height.
Working at Height – The Hierarchy of Control
The Fall Protection Hierarchy of Control measures for working at heights is the preferred order of control to eliminate or reduce fall hazards. Most governing bodies accepts that the fall protection hierarchy of control should provide the starting point for considering what type of fall protection system is required when working at heights is unavoidable.
If you're planning, managing or working at height, you need to understand what control measures should be put in place to ensure the work can be carried out safely.
Kee Safety’s Working at Height Infographic outlines the control measures should be put in place to eliminate or reduce fall hazards. Click here to download our Fall Protection Hierarchy of Control Infographic.