If you're using a small scissor lift or working on a low roof, do you still need to use fall protection systems?

The answer is yes. In fact, fall protection is required for anyone working at heights of 2 metres of greater. This includes personnel working less than 2 metres from the edge of a roof with no guard rails.
If this seems overly cautious, you may be surprised to learn that around half of workers killed after falling from height fall from 3 metres or lower, according to statistics from Safe Work Australia. The leading causes of death from falls are from roofs, ladders and vehicles, with 37 percent of these fatalities being in the construction industry.

Fall protection isn't only important for avoiding penalties – it can save lives and prevent serious injuries.

Determining the risk

Anyone on your team working more than 2 metres off the ground on roofs, scaffolding, elevating work platforms or other access equipment needs to be adequately protected from the risk of falls.

If you're not sure whether there are fall hazards on your site, you can consult with a height safety specialist. They'll carry out a thorough inspection and explain what action is required to comply with WHS regulations.

Managing the risk 

If fall hazards are identified on a site, there are various ways they can be managed to eliminate or lower the risk. In descending order of preference, these are:

  1. Eliminate the risk – if work can be conducted at a lower height, or in a safer location, no special action needs to be taken.
  2. Fall prevention systems – guard rails, barriers, safety mesh and other passive systems are enough in many cases for lowering the risk.
  3. Work positioning systems – rope-based systems such as static lines and roof anchors that can lower the risk of personnel falling. Workers must be specially trained in their use.
  4. Fall injury prevention systems – worn by personnel when working at height or using elevating work platforms, these systems cannot prevent falls, but are designed to reduce the severity of injuries.
What training is needed? 

Employees working at height or inspecting fall protection systems need to complete a nationally recognised training course with a registered training organisation (RTO). Depending on their role and responsibilities, this may include:
  1. EWP training – Yellow Card training covers scissor lifts, vertical lifts and other elevated work platforms of heights below 11 metres. For cherry picker hire and other access equipment higher than 11 metres, specialised training and a WorkCover High Risk Work Licence are required.
  2. Working Safely at Heights training – this one-day course covers the competency required to work safely at heights and depths, including safe work practices, risk management and use of PPE.
  3. Height Safety Equipment Inspection training – covers the knowledge and skills needed to carry out inspections of harnesses, lanyards and other protective equipment.
Coates Hire offers a number of training and assessment programs delivered through our registered training organisation in all parts of Australia. Find a training course near you.

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