Anchor Safe has been at the forefront of height safety in Australia for over 30 years and the safety landscape has changed dramatically in that time – for the better.
In the last 10-15 years alone, we’ve seen the introduction of specific working at heights legislation and a National Code of Practice, and there’s been significant advances in the equipment and techniques used to keep people safe when they’re working at heights.
We’ve come a long way as an industry, but there’s still more work to do to make Australian workplaces safer and protect workers at height in every industry and at every site. People’s lives depend on it!
The risk is real
Falls from height remain one of the leading causes of injury and death in Australian workplaces and it’s the number one killer on construction sites in New South Wales.
While the figures for 2019 are yet to be released, we know that 18 Australians were killed in a workplace fall in 2018. That’s 11 less than the number of people who died as a result of a fall from height at the start of the last decade, but it’s still 18 men – sons, husbands, fathers, brothers and mates – who went to work safe, but didn’t come home safe.
Where to from here?
In our view, the only way is up if we’re going to bring down the number of people getting killed or injured working at height – higher standards, higher levels of competency and greater compliance across the board, more training and even more innovation.
Cross-industry focus on height safety
- It’s safe to say working at heights and fall prevention has secured a place as one of the top workplace health and safety priorities across industries and in particular, the building and construction, manufacturing, transport and energy industries. What we’ve seen, and what we’re hoping to see more of, is a more robust implementation of plans, systems and processes to manage the risks associated with working at heights. Plus, industry-wide and internal company campaigns that put height safety front of mind and focus on injury prevention.
New levels of attention from Governments
- The fall from heights statistics coupled with the continued infrastructure and construction boom is ensuring height safety is a priority for Australia’s Federal and State Governments, too. SafeWork NSW is ‘walking the talk’ with its Towards Zero Falls from Heights Data Insights and Action Plan which outlines the steps they’ll be taking to reduce the number of fatalities and serious injuries from falls from heights by 2022.
- Governments are also cracking down on businesses that aren’t complying with height safety regulations and guidelines. In 2019, a company director was sentenced to a year in prison and his company fined $1 million in Queensland’s first Category 1 prosecution. The action related to a 2014 incident in which a roofer was killed when he fell almost six metres from an unprotected roof edge.
Outsourcing height safety
- In today’s organisations, Health & Safety Managers, Facilities Managers and business owners have a long and often complex list of compliance requirements relating to various areas of workplace health and safety.
- Height safety is one area where they know they need to get it right. It’s a highly specialised area of workplace safety that demands constant monitoring and maintenance. It makes sense to outsource it to an accredited company that has the specialist knowledge, expertise and equipment to take care of everything from audits and inspections to installations and maintenance. The efficiency and effectiveness of this approach makes it likely that outsourcing height safety will become the preferred model for small, medium and large businesses (especially ones with multiple sites).
- Changes in our climate are driving changes in our industry. Hotter temperatures and heatwaves are putting a stronger emphasis on sun safety, hydration, PPE and fatigue management for workers at height on rooftops, and on industrial and building sites. While more frequent, intense storms and bushfire threats are making rooftop maintenance and emergency management plans a must.
- The response to climate change is also influencing building design, with eco-friendly, energy efficient buildings becoming the norm. This is changing what our rooftops look like and what’s on them – everything from solar panels, water recycling systems to rooftop gardens; and presenting unique challenges for rooftop access and maintenance.
Higher quality education and training
- Access to high quality training is vital for people who work at heights, whether it’s just one part of their role or it’s something they do every day. The Working at Heights Association (WAHA) has laid the groundwork, with the release of guidelines for RTOs that set out the minimum requirements for WAHA-endorsed courses, and recommend courses be re-certified every two years.
Technology and innovation
- More and more, new technologies are shaping the way we work and the height safety industry is no exception. Already, we’re seeing drones being used to support physical rooftop inspections, providing video footage and on-the-ground analysis of maintenance issues or damage. Technology platforms, apps and software will also increasingly assist us to manage, track and report on compliance, and develop, update and implement Safe Work Method Statements on-the-job.
Make sure you have the right protection in place for anyone who’s working at heights at your site – today and tomorrow. Call us on 1300 475 186 to find out about our accredited height safety, access and fall protection systems.