Tag Archives: height safety

Certification of Height Safety Equipment

We were contacted recently by a company who had an accident when an item of access equipment malfunctioned.  It transpired that their height safety equipment, as well as their access equipment had not been maintained or inspected fro some time.

All items of height safety equipment must be inspected prior to each use and their fitness for the intended purpose assessed by a competent person.  They should also be tested periodically dependiong on the manufacturers recommended intervals.  Obviously, the time to find out that your intertia reel is faulty is not when you’re falling from the roof of a building.

Manufacturers and distributors generally offer testing and certification services and can provide advice on certification and testing intervals for the various types of height safety equipment.

Elevating Work Platforms (EWP)

Just a quick post regarding EWPs, particularly scissor lifts.  It is a requirement for all persons in the basket to wear a correctly adjusted harness with a lanyard attached to an approved anchor point for boom type EWP.  This is not required for a scissor lift.

A risk assessement should be conducted having regard to the characteristics of the machine, the site and the work to be performed to determine whether a harness and lanyard may be required for persons in the basket of a scissor lift.  If the risk posed by some identified hazard is reduced or eliminated by using a harness and lanyard then these should be required.

Some organisations are implementing ‘blanket’ requirements for the use of harnesses and lanyards without proper identification of hazards and assessment of the risks involved in the use of scissor lifts.  There are circumstances where it is safer not to be tethered to the basket of these machines.  Using such blanket requirements under these circumstances may place operators at greater risk.

As always the risk assessment determines and documents the safest means of completing the task.

Working at Heights Training

My post last week prompted some interesting questions in relation to Working at Heights Training. One, which comes up fairly regularly concerns the certification requirements and the need for regular recertification.

We deliver our Working at Heights program in accordance with the Unit of Competency RIIOHS204A-Work Safely at Heights. This unit is drawn from the National Training Package for the Resource and Infrastructure Industries. Training package units, like qualifications under the Australian Qualifications Framework do not require refresher training or reassessment.

The National Standard for height work (AS/NZ 1891) however does require reassessment at ‘appropriate’ intervals.

What constitutes and appropriate interval depends on the level of skill required of the operator. Simple tasks in relatively low risk situations will require a different interval for reassessment than high risk situations where non-routine work is being performed. The controller of the site will generally determine what interval should apply. Commonly this is 2 years but in high risk situation the intyerval could be shorter. Bare in mind that working at heights has a mandatory risk control system that needs to be applied so this may need to be refreshed regualrly.

Under the new Work Health and Safety Act to be introduced on 1 January 2012 all officers of a company have a responsibility to undertake adequate due diligence in relation to hazards and risks. This positive responsibility may induce site controllers to consider shorter intervals in future – we will need to see regulations and possibly some appeal cases before the full impact of these responsibilities can be known.

We also have a page about working at heights training.

Working at Heights

Probably the number one source of confusion in regard to height safety revolves around just what is deemed to be working at heights.  There are a number of metric measures bandied about, and they are all wrong.  Whenever it is possible to fall from one level to another the work should be considered working at heights.

Once you classify work in this way, and it is deemed to encompass working at height, a  mandatory hierarchy of control must be applied.

While we generally think about the potential for a person to fall, consideration should also be given to falling objects such as tools and equipment, which pose a risk of injury to others working on a lower level.