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How can safety equipment save construction workers?

It’s no secret that construction work has a tonne of risks involved with it. One risk in particular is working at heights. When work is being conducted at a height of 2 metres or more, this is considered high-risk construction work.

The main risk when working at heights is a fall, some of which result in injuries or even fatalities. Between 1st January 2003 and 31st December 2015, 359 workers were killed following a fall from a height, with half of these falls involving falling only three metres or less (safeworkaustralia.gov.au).

This is an astounding number of falls which could have been potentially avoided with proper fall prevention devices and height safety equipment.

Eliminating work that involves heights is of course the most effective way to prevent a fall, however, sometimes it is an unavoidable task on a construction site. Below we will outline some tactics for managing and minimising the risk of falls.

Identify potential fall hazards

Conduct inspections of the worksite to check for potential hazards that could lead to workers falling. Check for common fall risks, such as:

  •   Fragile, sloping, slippery or unstable surfaces
  •   Elevated work equipment like scaffolding, platforms or ladders
  •   Unprotected ledges
  •   Uncovered manholes or shafts that a worker could fall into
  •   Check equipment, such as anchor points and static lines are in perfect working order.

Reviewing any available incident records could also help identify problem areas on the worksite.

Implement and maintain control measures

Once you’ve identified your hazards, create solutions such procedures and control measures. In order to keep you and your workers safe you must ensure that the control measures you’ve implemented remain effective, otherwise you may need to revise them. This involves ensuring that the control measures are suitable for the purpose; appropriate for the type and duration of the work; and are installed and operated correctly.

Fall prevention devices and fall-arrest systems

A fall prevention device is a temporary installation for working at heights. Once set up it doesn’t require any further adjustment by workers. Fall prevention devices include:

  •   Scaffolding and suspended scaffolds
  •   Elevated work platforms, such as a cherry picker or boom lift
  •   Mast climbing work platforms
  •   Trestle ladder scaffolds, and a number of other devices.

Fall-arrest systems are different, as they are used to control and reduce the impact of any falls that may occur. These systems are typically used if the aforementioned prevention devices and other safety methods may not be fully effective in preventing a fall. Fall-arrest equipment might include:

  •   Catch platforms
  •   Industrial safety nets
  •   Individual fall arrest systems, such as static lines, anchor points or rigid rail systems.

Appropriate signage

Never underestimate the usage of some simple but effective warning signs. Having signage around potential hazards and risk areas can flag danger areas, keeping you and your workers safe.

For further information on managing the risk of falls, Safe Work Australia provides a comprehensive guide online.

It may seem like a complex task, but when executed properly fall prevention procedures and height safety equipment can save construction workers’ lives.

At Anchored, your safety is our priority. What are you waiting for? Call us now on 03 9555 3586 to get a quote.

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