Reminder on fall protection measures in workplaces

A reminder has been issued to employers by WorkSafe WA to use every means at their disposal to protect workers from falls from height.

WorkSafe WA Commissioner Lex McCulloch said falls had led to a large number of deaths and injuries in workplaces over the past ten years.

“Over the past ten years, 28 Western Australian workers have lost their lives as the result of work-related falls, four of these during the 2015/16 financial year,” Mr McCulloch said.

“Add to this the number of workers who have sustained permanent and life-changing injuries in falls, and the size of the problem becomes apparent.

“The bottom line is that employers should ensure they always operate in accordance with the relevant regulations and code of practice when it comes to fall protection.

“WA’s Occupational Safety and Health Regulations 1996 have prescriptive requirements concerning working at heights, including conducting comprehensive risk assessments to identify fall hazards, assessing the risks associated with those hazards and controlling those risks.

“Common fall hazards can include the stability, strength and slipperiness of surfaces, changes in levels, ground conditions, edges, scaffolding, openings or holes and weather conditions.

“Where brittle or fragile roofing materials form any part of a roof, people accessing the roof need to be informed and be provided with a safe system of work along with instructions or training about the safe system of work to be used.

“Where construction work involves a risk of a person falling more than two metres, the main contractor/building owner must ensure that a Safe Work Method Statement is prepared before the work begins.

“In addition, the Code of Practice – Prevention of Falls at Workplaces has been in use in WA since 2004, and should be followed by anyone who has a duty to prevent falls at workplaces.

“This code provides practical advice on the safe systems of work that should be in place where the risk of falls exists.

“Employers need to be aware of all the laws involved when there is a fall risk at their workplace and ensure they have suitable safe work procedures in place.”

To find out more, visit the WorkSafe WA website – www.commerce.wa.gov.au