Falls from heights a deadly issue

Thursday, 05 July, 2007

ACT WorkCover stated that Coroner, Maria Doogan found the 2004 death of a worker on an ACT construction site was due to the employer's failure to provide fall protection.

The employee was standing atop a 2.6 m high shipping container, removing 60 kg light poles, when he fell to the ground and a light pole fell on top of him.

ACT WorkCover acting Occupational Health and Safety Commissioner, Steven Hart said shipping containers are not designed to store equipment on their roof and this is a reminder that no one should work at heights above 1.8 m unless there are control measures such as guardrails or scaffolding in place to prevent falls.

Provision should be made to prevent persons falling if work is to be carried out within 2 m of any edge on a new or existing roof from which any person could fall 1.8 m or more. The method selected is generally determined by individual job factors including the nature of the work, the size of area to be roofed, availability of equipment and interaction with other trades.

"The recommended method is safety mesh and guardrails; however, other available methods include individual fall arrest systems, scaffolding, safety nets or a combination of these," Hart said.

"It is of real concern that commercial construction contractors fail to meet their safety obligations in relation to the hazards of work at heights despite the known risks, the quantity of information available on height safety and the ready availability of control measures."

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