Could the design of a structure support workplace safety?

When a structure is in the process of being built, much of the consideration is around its visual aesthetics and the way it fits into the local community. However, it is important to remember that these plans can also have a major impact on workplace safety and ensure people working at heights are safe on site.

According to Safe Work Australia, 20 workers were killed between 2003 and 2011 after accidents at buildings under construction. The majority of these individuals (11) were working on houses while there were also four deaths on industrial structures, three on commercial buildings and two on high rise accommodations.

As such, what design considerations can business leaders make to ensure the safety of their team? Here are three examples.

1) Safe entry and exit

Based on Safe Work Australia’s Code of Practice on managing workplace falls, one of the main points to remember is around workers gaining access and exit to work areas. In terms of design, this means that there can’t be any locations where working at heights professionals could put themselves in danger nor can install any permanent guardrails or edge protection.

Of course, this risk should be assessed before the building construction begins.

2) Thinking about future operations

Safe Work Australia urges business leaders not to forget about others who could work in this environment in the future.

While the working at height team operating during the construction phase should be considered a priority in terms of safety, Safe Work Australia urges business leaders not to forget about others who could work in this environment in the future.

This could include anyone from those installing antennae and satellite dishes and air conditioning contractors to gutter and window cleaners. All these parties have specific safety requirements, and ensuring that this is respected and addressed during the design phase is critical.

3) Using other construction techniques

One risk management tactic involves using alternative methods to construct the building in question.

According to Best practice guidelines for working at height in New Zealand, published by the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment, examples of this include building wall frames horizontally before putting them upright or pre-painting various fixtures such as roofs before they are placed at the desired height.

By thinking about what tasks can be done at ground level, your team can spend less time up high and there are fewer hazards as a result.

For more information about how height safety training can assist your workforce, contact Anchor Safe Systems today.