Workplace fatality in Brisbane
Workplace Health and Safety have just released information that they are investigating a workplace fatality in Fortitude Valley this week. A man's life was tragically lost when he fell into a two metre trench which collapsed. No further information is known at this stage.
When height safety is discussed, many people immediately think of working high above the ground. What is so often forgotten is that a fall can happen anywhere where there are two different levels. The Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 states that when there is a risk of falling from one level to another and there is a likely chance of injury precautions must be taken.
This tragic event serves as a reminder that workplaces can be dangerous and we all must be alert. Even a short fall can cause enormous injury. Often we see worksites where height safety is considered "red tape" and just another rule to slow work down and get in the road of completing the job. This cannot be further from the truth. A well designed fall arrest system will allow work to move smoothly and safely. The number one reason for using a fall prevention system is to ensure that at the end of the day you go home to your family and not that your family come and see you at the hospital or worse.
A well designed and thought out system will cover the following points:
- Safe point of entry and connection
- Well designed and set out system
- Easy and quick to use
- Keeps the user in fall restraint
- Has the correct signage and is within certification
- Has an easy to understand user manual and rescue plan
When working at ground level and around fall hazards such as holes and trenches a SWMS must identify what hazards will exist and how to eliminate or minimise them before work starts. An ongoing assessment must continue throughout the work as new hazards can appear which may not have been considered. Many of the same principles which are used on a roof can be applied around a hole. One of the most important principles of height safety is working in fall restraint. This means not being able to put yourself in a position where you can fall at all. This can be done through a number of ways such as:
- Exclusion zones
- Harnesses and rope lines
- site rules