Friday, September 9, 2011

Safe Working at Height Sure 100 %

Safety First in the Workplace

One of the great legacies resulting from the modern mining boom is that every action taken in the workplace is seen through the lens of safety. Australia can proudly boast that its workers operates in one of the most OH&S focused working environments globally.

This is not to create a deterrent in productivity but to ensure that everyone is protected from the workers in and around the mines though to the managers and executives examining protocols in terms of liability and impact to project feasibility. The era of 'at all costs' prospecting and production is over. However, not all safety standard are applied equally.

Government bodies such as Workplace NSW have identified the failure of the connection between harness and support system as the primary cause of several deaths and injuries in workplace scenarios that were completely avoidable if Height Safety Access regulations were followed.

Height Safety as a Key Area of Weakness

As safety standard are increasing, height safety is one of the key areas where further attention is needed. This is often not deliberate. it is an oversight as to when height safety risk control measures should b taken.

The current perception is that height safety applies just to all buildings but OH&S regulations nationwide have demanded that workers need to be secured when at height. As an example, OH&S Regulations 2001 requires personnel that carry out work above 2mtrs must be attached safety and securely to prevent a possible fall. This will apply often in a  variety of scenarios in surface and underground mining sites. Height Safety risk controls would apply to workers in or on top of mining shafts, the edge or an open cut operation or on any temporary structure.

However, the great majority of mine managers are unaware of the exact legislation they must follow and have personnel working in an unsafe environment. One of the biggest ongoing concerns is the education of safety requirements to people who are 'at risk' or manage those 'at risk' the implications are profound as injury or death is a worst case scenario that is completely avoidable. 100% safety should be the priority.

Sub-standard Installation of Height Safety Systems

Even the managers who endorse an installation of a height safety system are placing trust on the installer who may not be familiar with all the elements required to adequately create a secure 'at height' working environment. They need to know about the equipment uses, the composition of the host structure where the height system is fixed, the way it is fixed, the context of use, are all critical factors that determine the quality of the installation of the height safety system.

Rubber-stamped Self Certification

Australia Standard are a 'beast effort' to create continuity and consistency in an industry. When written into legislation like Work cover and OH&S Regulation 2001 it provides a framework for safety companies to operate in. However, the reality of the workplace is that 'at height' security is a non-core activity and only rudimentary training would be given on site. The contractors would then only recognise what they know and may easily miss what they don't in the event of an accident the liability will point back to the worker who certified the system ready for use. Workplace legislation that seems rigorous on the surface is undermined by the quality control standards of those that are applying it. Unfortunately, injury or death will often be the trigger that causes a review. A proactive approach is demanded.

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