No excuses: When to implement fall and edge protection
Australian workers are still dying in falls from height.
Indeed these accidents accounted for 15 per cent of employee deaths in 2017, according to Safe Work Australia.
As a project leader it's your job to recognise risks on your site, and implement appropriate measures to keep your team safe. This article will tell you when to action fall and edge protection and present some effective solutions that you can adopt.
What are the regulations on fall and edge protection?
Official guidance at an Australia-wide level can be found in the National Code of Practice for the Prevention of Falls in General Construction, published in 2008. This document divides its requirements into sections:
1. Working at heights of less than two metres
The National Code makes it clear that serious injury, and even fatality, can occur from a fall from almost any height. While these situations may at first appear to only pose limited danger to your staff, it's still your duty to provide adequate edge protection to prevent accidents.
Common examples of dangers when working within this elevation bracket include:
- The use of stilts: Stilts are tempting for quick tasks like plastering or painting, but raise the user's centre of gravity and make them more likely to fall. As guardrails and other safety devices can't be used with stilts, the National Code recommends replacing them with a splithead trestle scaffold. Easy to deploy, this apparatus provides a far more stable base to work from.
- Working from a stepladder: Sideways tripping is a serious concern with stepladder use, and workers often don't have a second pair of hands to stabilise the equipment as they work. A great alternative is a step platform, which provides a much larger standing space for the worker.
2. Working at heights of 2 metres and above
While any edge presents danger, the chances of an injury being serious or life threatening increases with height.
Work conducted at heights of 2 metres or more is deemed high risk in the National Construction Code.
Where staff are operating at heights of 2 metres or more, a project is deemed as high-risk construction work by the National Code. With this comes added responsibilities for those in charge, including the development of a Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS). An SWMS performs the following functions:
- Demonstrating recognition that a task has risks, and specifically identifying them.
- Lays out the measures being taken to mitigate the risks, and how they will be put into practice.
- Descriptions of the personnel conducting the work, and the equipment and training available to them. An SWMS is usually developed as part of, or after, a risk assessment, and must be finished in order to implement appropriate risk control equipment.
- Physical fall prevention measures must be implemented when working at heights of 2 metres or more, so let's look at an example of simple yet effective safety equipment you can use on your site.
Monowills™ Tubular Handrail & Stanchion Systems
Webforge's Monowills™ systems are designed to be simple to install, without compromising strength and durability.
Our dedicated project team can work with you to provide equipment that fully meets the safety needs on your site. All you have to do is provide layout drawings for your project to your local Webforge office, and we'll do the rest. Depending on the results of your site assessment and SWMS, the product can be adapted to include:
- Standard or Jumbo handrails and stanchions - Handrails provide an important third point of contact for workers in precarious situations. Stanchions add significantly to the strength of a safety barrier.
- Kick plates - Kick plates help protect your safety system from the wear and tear of heavy footfall.
- Balustrade and grating systems - Balustrades and grates provide an extra level of protection for staff working at height.
- Stair treads - Stair treads provide extra grip to your staff. This is particularly important when working on sloping roofs or other inclines.
A recent addition to the Monowills™ family is the Monowills™ Link. This is a modular railing system, and so requires no welding to assemble - making it even easier to transport and set up. The system is fully compliant with Australian Standard 1657:2018, which sets out the specifications for selecting, designing, manufacturing and installing fixed platforms, ladders, walkways and stairways.
The safety of your staff is the one thing more important than completing your project ahead of its deadline. However, planning and implementing safety measures doesn't have to be an onerous task. Get in touch with the team at Webforge to find out how we can help you get the equipment and expertise you need.