Man dies after falling six metres — likely from a ladder

Thursday, 31 October, 2019

Man dies after falling six metres — likely from a ladder

A man has died after falling six metres while working on an air-conditioning system at a civic centre. Workplace Health and Safety Queensland (WHS Queensland) believes he may have fallen from a ladder; however, the regulator is still investigating. WHS Queensland said that falls are a major cause of death and serious injury at workplaces. Often, they are caused by unstable ladders, movement on or off the ladder and certain types of work, with height and the surface below dictating the injuries’ severity.

To prevent similar incidents, workers and persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBUs) must take a risk management approach to falls from heights. Additionally, PCBUs must comply with several regulatory provisions, including Part 4.4 of the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 (the regulation) and the Managing the Risk of Falls at Workplaces Code of Practice 2018.

PCBUs involved in construction work must also comply with Section 299(1) of the regulation, requiring them to create a safe work method statement before starting high risk work, as well as subdivisions 2 and 3 of Chapter 6, which provide specific requirements for controlling the risk of falls and use of ladders and platforms supported by ladders during construction work. In terms of risk management, workers should collaborate with PCBUs to identify and eliminate or minimise dangers, so far as reasonably practicable, according to the hierarchy of control. This could be done by substituting the ladder with an elevating work platform or — if regular access is required — fixed access systems such as stairways and platforms.

Engineering controls can also be used, such as a travel restraint, fall arrest system with adequate anchorage points and guard rails installed along open edges. If travel restraints and fall arrest systems are used, workers must receive adequate training before starting work and be supervised throughout. Any remaining risk must be minimised using administrative controls — such as a safe system of work that considers the design, condition and layout of elevated work areas, including potential fall distance and the structure’s load rating, as well as correct set-up, stability and security of ladders. It should ensure that only light work is undertaken on ladders, where three points of contact can be maintained and tools can be operated safely with one hand.

Workers should also ensure that they have adequate knowledge and training to perform tasks safely and carry out the emergency and rescue procedure if a fall does occur. Finally, workers must ensure they have access to and use personal protective equipment, such as non-slip footwear.

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