When there is a risk to a user who may fall and cause injury to themselves.
An easy way to remember the components of a fall arrest system is to use the ‘ABCDE’ method.
- A – Anchor Point This is defined as the fall arrest rated point to which a worker can be tethered to carry out work safely.
- B – Body Harness This is defined as an Australian Standards approved, full body harness (belts and lower torso harnesses are excluded from the standard for most industrial applications). Choosing the right harness for the type of work to be carried out, frequency of use, comfort levels, etc is critical to maintain user acceptance and compliance.
- C – Connector A term used for a collective volume of hardware including hooks, karabiners and adjusters used between the harness and the anchor point.
- D – Decelerator By law, every fall protection system must have an energy absorption component to minimise the impact of the force created during a fall on the body to less than 6kN (600kg).
- E – Emergency Rescue Procedure The emergency rescue plan is an essential part of any site work plan. If a fallen worker is suspended for an extended period of time, they may be subjected to the dangerous and uncomfortable effects of suspension trauma.
By either preventing you from falling (in restraint mode) or keeping the forces after a fall to less than 6kN (approximately 600kg).
It is recommended that fall protection equipment be worn above any height where a fall can result in injury. State regulatory requirements differ from 1.8m to 2.4m and should be consulted. Site or company requirements may also apply.
This position during a fall-arrest puts you in a vertical posture that helps to reduce injury in a fall.
15kN (approximately 1500kg), for one person, for two persons an anchor point must be rated to a minimum of 21kN (approximately 2100kg).
User training is critical in the correct implementation and use of a fall protection plan. Effective use, care and maintenance of all fall arrest equipment can prevent the vast majority of incidents in any workplace.
- Fall Arrest A system which is designed to stop a free fall of a user and limit the maximum arresting forces imposed on the user to 6kN or less. (e.g. steel erection, suspended platform activities and elevated maintenance work).
- Work Positioning A system which is designed to hold and sustain the user at a work location and limit the free fall to 600mm.
- Restraint A system designed to prevent the user from reaching an area in which a fall could occur, thus free fall is impossible (e.g. leading edge roof work).
- Suspension A system designed to suspend and support the user while being transported (raised up or down) vertically and does not allow free fall (e.g. bosuns chair work).
- Rescue A system designed to raise or lower a user to safety in the event of an emergency, no fall possible (e.g. confined space work).
Consider documenting and updating height safety procedures, especially when the work is unfamiliar, involves a high level of risk or is repetitive. A fall protection plan can help prevent injuries from occurring, prevent repeat injuries and show evidence of attempts to reduce injuries. Consider:
- People exposed to a risk of a fall Preventing unauthorised access to dangerous areas
- Personal fall arrest equipment
- Confined space work
- Swing fall hazards
- Work suspension practices
- Working slack and lanyard lengths
- First man up devices
- Distance between nearest obstacle below
- Permanent or temporary access
- Rope access
- Passive Systems
- Restraint systems, guardrails, scaffolds
- Personnel (safety nets)
- Suitable anchorages and anchorage straps
- Attachment connectors and attachment hardware
- Temporary horizontal lifelines
- Permanent engineered systems (Hammerhead safety rail, Strongrail, sliding anchor beams, davit arms, I beam trolleys)
- Training by a competent person
- Documentation by a qualified person
- Means of determining worker comprehension
- Inspection schedules and procedures
- Rescue equipment and procedures Back-up systems
Our Technical Information page is devoted to keeping you up to date with all of these regulations.
Fall Prevention Fall prevention is the highest form of fall protection. This removes the risk of the worker falling by providing a barrier between them and the fall hazard. Common types of barriers used for this purpose includes handrail systems, parapet walls, etc. Fall Restraint Fall restraint systems restrict the movement of the worker to prevent the worker from reaching the fall edge. The lanyard is typically a fixed length or self-retracting that does not extend past the fall edge and it effectively acts like a leash preventing a fall arrest situation from occurring. Ropes or lanyard with adjustment can also be used where the worker is appropriately trained to use these types of systems. Fall Arrest Fall arrest systems arrest the fall of a worker in the event that they fall from a surface. This equipment does not prevent the worker from falling, with the worker most at risk from a fall compared to fall restraint. A rescue plan must be in place prior to any person using the fall arrest device to rescue the worker in the event they are involved in a fall.
As a building owner or manager it is your responsibility to ensure that anyone who works at height on your buildings is doing so as safely as possible, including being responsible for sub-contractors and their workers. A brief summary of your requirements as a building owner/manager are:
- Learn the Hierarchy of Controls for safely Working at Heights.
- Keep up to date with Industry Acts, Codes, Standards and Guidelines.
- Plan for the work tasks to be completed in a safe and compliant way, and ensure the workers follow this plan.
- Hold regular toolbox meetings to communicate the plan.
- Ensure all workers are fully trained and supervised.
- Inspect your access and fall protection equipment regularly.
- Review and update your working at height procedures and practices as appropriate for changes site conditions, expertise and experience or workers, and the works tasks to be completed.
A Safe Work Method Statement is a document that is completed for all ‘high risk construction work’. Working at heights is considered high risk and a SWMS is always required to be prepared before any work of this type is carried out. Click this link for more information and to download a SWMS information sheet about SWMS Information Sheet (SafeWork Australia).
PCBUs (Persons Conducting a Business or Undertaking), such as building owners, building managers, facility managers, and directors have a Primary Duty of Care to eliminate the risk of falls in the workplace, or if that is not reasonably practicable, minimise those risks so far as is reasonably practicable. Your Duty of Care includes your workers, visitors to your site, and contractors and their employees. Many PCBU’s incorrectly believe that contractors do not fall under their scope of responsibility however it is your responsibility under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011. With the introduction and updates in many states of Australia of Workplace Manslaughter Laws, failing to provide adequate safety for workers, especially when conducting high risk work such as working at height, can expose you to serious consequences such as fines and gaol sentences. Organising an audit of your height safety systems will:
- Identify areas of concern by conducting a risk assessment
- Check your systems for compliance to Australian Standards and other relevant industry guidelines
- Ensure existing components and equipment have had recertification and inspections carried out as per manufacturer’s requirements
- Offer practical and compliant solutions in accordance with the hierarchy of control for working at height
If your height safety systems have not been inspected or recertified in the last 12 months it is time to get them checked by a competent person trained in the systems you have on your buildings. Height safety systems should be compliant to the relevant Australian Standards and Regulations at the time the systems are installed. Standards and Regulations are sometimes updated, however these are not normally applied retrospectively which means that height safety systems installed that were compliant to the Standards when installed, continue to be able to be inspected and certified as compliant to the Standard applicable at the time of installation. A competent Height Safety Specialist can conduct a height safety audit and will provide a report on your existing systems. They can also give you information of what action you may need to take to ensure compliance. Contact RISsafety on 02 8781 2100 or contact us now to arrange an audit of your systems.