New revelations regarding failed life-saving falls equipment after last night's ABC 7.30 program

Friday, 11 April, 2014

In the wake of last night’s ABC 7.30 program on falls from height, the Working At Heights Association has a warning: “If you’re counting on a harness attached to an anchor system to save your life when you fall from a roof, you need to know that many roof anchors don’t meet the most basic safety standards.”

Working At Heights Association (WAHA) Secretary Gordon Cadzow said the estimated 350,000 Australians who work at height maintaining buildings face a deadly threat, with as many as 31% of life-saving safety anchors unable to meet the most basic safety standards.

The association, which represents manufacturers and installers of fall prevention equipment, has today revealed dramatic footage of several types of commonly used roof safety anchors failing “drop tests” in accordance with Australian Standard AS/NZS5532.

In the tests, 100 kg loads dropped through 2 m tear single-person anchors away from their mounts, while 150 kg loads for two-person use hit the ground, smashing the weights. Only one out of the five anchors tested passed.

“The results are shocking,” says Cadzow. “Hundreds of thousands of plumbers and other Australian tradies stake their lives on this equipment every day while they do routine maintenance tasks like cleaning gutters and servicing air conditioners. I can’t tell you how traumatic it is to speak with the families of people who’ve been killed after a fall. The association is determined to make a difference.”

Cadzow said WAHA had already met with regulators after audits showed a low level of compliance with safety standards for fixed ladders and anchors. It has begun a fresh round of urgent briefings given the new test results.

“Australia’s rooftops are bristling with anchors unfit for use,” he says. “Until the regulators can take decisive action, WAHA urges workers and employers to demand a report from an accredited lab proving roof anchors pass the basic AS/NZS5532 drop test before they are used.”

The Working At Heights Association recommends concerned workers contact their state regulators for advice and more information is available at www.waha.org.au/fall-crisis.

ABC 7.30 segment “The deadly dangers of working at height”: http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2014/s3983038.htm

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