Risk assessments can prevent falls

Falls through brittle or fragile roofing material are a common cause of serious injuries to workers. Should exposure to such hazards occur, fall protection systems are designed to prevent a fall.

In August this year a first-year apprentice electrician working on the installation of solar panels on the roof of a commercial building fell through a skylight made of plastic sheeting.

The installation of solar panels on commercial buildings falls under regulations associated with construction work. In practice, this means that a work safe method must be prepared for the work.

Before commencing any job that requires work at height, the risk of falls needs to be assessed and control measures put in place. It is the installer’s duty to:

  • Undertake a risk assessment of the roof and access points from the ground.
  • Identify potential hazards, including a full assessment of the condition of skylights, fixtures and fittings.
  • Introduce control measures, including restricting access to areas of concern or fragility.
  • Consider fall protection.
  • Ensure that a height safety system is in place before work starts.
  • Check that any existing height safety systems have been recertified and complies with regulations and the manufacturers guidelines.

Recommended systems can include walkways, guard rails, lifelines and harnesses or safety nets installed in accordance with the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 and Work Health and Safety Regulation 2017.

Working with lifelines and anchor points involves ensuring that:

  • Slack in the line is limited for each work position.
  • Moving within the site means re-checking the anchorage points and line length are still suitable.

Younger workers can’t be expected to have the same appreciation of the dangers of working at height and how to mitigate the risks as more experienced colleagues.

Appropriate height safety training should be given to younger workers who are more exposed due to their inexperience. They should be accompanied in their work by more knowledgeable team members whose duty it is to ensure that the work site has been assessed and that there is an adequate height safety system in place.

There isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ safety system for working at height.  It is essential that the specific requirements of each installation job are considered including potential hazards.

Going forward, any maintenance to be carried out on the premises will require further assessment and height safety systems will need to be professionally recertified.

If you require a risk assessment for a project requiring work at height or recertification of your fall prevention systems, speak to the Anchor Safe team today on 1300 475 186 or email sales@anchorsafe.com.au.