Lower the risks when working at heights


Friday, 11 December, 2020


Lower the risks when working at heights

Working at heights is a high-risk activity and a leading cause of death and serious injury in Australia, with Safe Work Australia (SWA) data revealing that there have been 122 fatalities from falls from heights over the past five years. This accounts for 13% of worker fatalities. Workers in the construction industry are most at risk, with most fatalities caused by falls from buildings or other structures. SWA has published new resources to remind employers and workers about the risks of working at heights, and how to manage those risks. The resources include infographics on ladder safety, causes of falls from heights, and fatalities and serious workers compensation claims data. SWA CEO Michelle Baxter said the resources were developed to remind employers and workers of the risks of working at heights, and that a fall from any height can be dangerous. “Employers have a responsibility to manage the risk of someone falling from height,” Baxter said. “The best way to manage the risk is to eliminate it by working on the ground or on a solid structure.”

Serious workers compensation claims that resulted from falls from heights fell 17% between 2009–10 and 2018–19; however, during this period, falls from heights still accounted for 6% of serious claims. Those managing or in control of a workplace are responsible for eliminating or minimising the risk of falls from heights. This may include working on the ground or on a solid structure. “If elimination isn’t possible, minimising the risk may involve using fall prevention devices, for example fences and edge protection; work positioning systems, for example an elevating work platform; or fall arrest systems, such as safety nets or harnesses,” Baxter said. In most cases, a combination of control measures will provide the best solution to minimise the risk of falls from height. “Our model Code of Practice: Managing the risk of falls at workplaces and model Code of Practice: Managing the risk of falls in housing construction also provide practical guidance on control measures for managing the risks of working at heights,” Baxter said.

SWA has also published infographics about ladder safety, falls from heights and falls data that can be downloaded and shared with workers or placed around the workplace.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/chakarin

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