home / news / Height Safety / Height Safety Guide: Ensuring Fall Protection in the Access Industry

Height Safety Guide: Ensuring Fall Protection in the Access Industry

Unsurprisingly, working at height is inherently dangerous, with falls and other accidents posing a serious threat to the safety of our height safety engineers. As such, it’s essential to take steps to identify potential hazards and implement appropriate safety measures to protect people working at height. In this month’s blog, we are going to look at how we determine the best use of equipment to use for different work sites and environments, to ensure the safety of our workers and minimise the risk of accidents at height, when performing industrial rope access and height safety services.

Common hazards for workers at height

There are range of hazards our team face on a daily basis, some of these include: 
  • Potential falls from height due to inadequate fall protection systems, access and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
  • Structural collapse or instability of elevated surfaces or platforms.
  • Electrocution from live electrical equipment.
  • Poor weather conditions, such as strong winds or extreme temperatures.
  • Falling objects, tools, or materials that can injure workers below.
  • Physical or mental fatigue, which can lead to reduced awareness and reaction times.

Identify Hazards and Assess the Risks

Conducting a height safety risk assessment is an essential step in identifying potential hazards and implementing appropriate controls. This assessment should consider all areas where workers will be at height, including roofs, scaffolding, ladders and platforms. It should also take into account the type of work being performed, evaluating the severity and likelihood of hazards occurring during the process. From there, appropriate control measures are applied and the equipment that is required is identified. 

Choose the Right Fall Protection System

The team from Kerrect endeavour to manage the risk of a fall when providing their rope access or height safety services through a fall protection system that is specifically suitable for the worksite. Let’s take a look at the three of the most common types of systems we implement.

Fall Prevention Systems

Fall prevention systems are considered the most effective way to protect against falls. Not only do they provide a high level of safety, but they also don’t require workers to use PPE or undergo specific training.  This type of system can take the form of various structures such as roof guardrails, roof walkways, work platforms and scaffolding.   

Fall Restraint Systems

Fall restraint systems, also known as work-positioning systems, utilise a full-body harness and lanyard to protect workers from a fall hazard. They are a great option to use when a fall prevention system is unsuitable. However, given the heavy reliance on fall restraint systems when in operation, it is important to inspect all PPE to ensure it meets Australian standards and is fit for purpose. Workers also need to be sufficiently trained and briefed on the operation of the system and equipment, such as anchor points or rigid rail systems, which need to meet Australian standards and maintain annual certification.     

Fall Arrest Systems

Although this particular system doesn’t prevent a fall, it can reduce the impact and potential for serious injury or fatality, by stopping the fall mid-way. Examples include industrial safety nets, catch platforms, or individual harnesses attached to anchors. The correct use of the fall arrest systems by the team is crucial, most importantly however is that everyone needs to have an understanding of the fall distance and the degree of reliance on the arrest system. As a result, it is imperative that fall arrest systems meet Australian standards and again, maintain annual certification.      

Use the Right Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) 

Another critical component in staying safe while working at height is to choose the appropriate and most suitable PPE gear.  If your fall protection system relies on PPE to work effectively, these decisions can be the determining factor of whether a serious injury or fatality occurs.  Compliance with Australian standards and state regulations, as well as quality and comfort, are all essential components to using gear that can potentially save lives. It’s also important to ensure the type of gear you’re using is appropriate for the work being carried out. Just as all safety gear has a working life and eventually need to be replaced, so too does PPE, so regular inspections and updates are a must.      

Permanent access systems

For industrial and commercial operations that require regular access to rooftops or other at-height situations, a permanently installed access system usually offers safer access for all of your team.  Ladders, platforms or stairways, to name a few, provide compliant and safe access and are designed to minimise worker risk. However, when using permanent access systems, it is imperative that the right type of system is installed, so that it meets the job and safety requirements.      

Want to know more?

To find out more regarding the best use of equipment for different work sites and environments, get in touch with our height safety specialists today.  

Sign up to get the latest news from Kerrect