For the last 5 years straight, falls from height remain one of the leading causes of workplace fatalities in Australia. Tragically, 169 workers lost their lives in 2021 – of which 19 were killed due to a fall from height, and 16 from being hit by fallen objects. With these statistics looming over the construction industry & throughout the whole of Australia, we can expect significant changes introduced to the working at heights & construction industry in 2023.
Late last year the WAHA (working at heights association) attended an event with the regulator and the building and construction industry to launch the Scaffolding Industry Safety Standard (SISS) as well as conduct workshops to address the ongoing issues around working at heights. What came from that meeting is the changes we may start to see throughout 2023.
So, what does these changes look like & what can we expect. Some of the changes we may start to see include:
- Increased penalties
- Demerit point system
- Specific Safe Work NSW led Working at Heights Forum
- Permit and licensing systems introduced
- High Risk Work License (HRWL) e.g., <4m and >4m,
- Sub-competencies as per trade (formwork, scaffold)
- Validity period.
- Specific training for Working at Heights specific to sub-sector and skills,
- White Card changes/inclusion of work at height,
- Greater oversight of Registered Training Organisation providers
- Building greater awareness and risks including guidance material
- Changing messaging regarding accountability and duties of leaders
With the possibility of increased penalties, licensing & training, this greatly enhances the need to ensure your workplace & team are kept up to scratch with the latest industry developments & working at height requirements. The Anchor Safe team have been in the height safety industry for over 17 years now and have watched the safety scene change dramatically in that time. Here’s our top 3 rules to ensure compliance in 2023 and staying on top of these new changes mentioned above.
- Organise a height safety audit / inspection
A proper and thorough risk assessment is the most crucial step in height safety and remaining compliant to the Australian standards. Failure to properly identify risks will lead to flawed height safety practices and will promote a false sense of security. Anchor Safe conduct height safety audits that identify areas of non-compliance, potential hazards and recommendations for councils, facility managers & retail giants. Backed by our understanding of heritage and budget challenges, we help local governments ensure compliance for their full range of council buildings. For national property portfolios of 1-100 commercial and industrial buildings; we provide everything from client reporting to compliance asset registers. Book in a height safety inspection today.
- Ensure your staff understand fall distance & are regularly trained
Ensure all those that work at heights have the appropriate training and understand the risks associated with working at heights. A harness and rope won’t protect you unless you understand the system and have correctly calculated your fall distance. Your actual fall distance needs to not only include the length of your lanyard when deployed but also your body length below the D-ring and any sag in your harness and anchor system. Without the appropriate training your staff will be at risk. Not only is training required by the Australian standards, but there is too much room for human error and confusion when it comes to a person trying to protect themselves at height without proper knowledge. System users also need to be vigilant in inspecting systems before using them to ensure they are fit for purpose. For example, an incorrect anchor layout is just as dangerous as not having any fall protection at all. Insufficient anchors cause large dead zones requiring extended lanyard length which then allows dangerous pendulum fall possibilities. Train your staff before its to late
- Schedule recertification & maintenance
This year it is imperative to ensure your height safety systems have a schedule maintenance program. By law, all permanently mounted fall arrest safety systems require annual inspection and recertification. These systems can include roof anchor points, static lines, vertical line ladders and any other system components designed to prevent or arrest a fall from heights. Height safety systems such as guardrails, walkways, access ladders, stairway systems and skylight protection systems are recommended by manufacturers to be inspected & recertified annually by an accredited inspector. Schedule regular maintenance to minimise risks reduce liabilities and have peace of mind knowing your contractors & employees are safe at heights. With the new changes coming to the height safety industry its important to keep on top of your legal requirements, if unsure of what these are reach out to the team today. Contact our dedicated recertification team