Lead the way - work better at heights

19.09.22 02:03 PM By WasteMINZ

Working at height means working in a place where a person could be injured if they fell from one level to another. This can be above or below ground level. Here are some tips for working at heights. 

1.  Identify fall hazards; for examples, unprotected perimeter edge (e.g., roof), unstable surfaces (e.g., stack of pallets), tarping a hook/gantry bin, clearing material from the front load truck roof. 

2.  Assess the risk of falling; ascertain the potential distance a worker could fall and the extent of harm. Three scenarios:

a.  free fall (a fall more than 600mm up to a maximum of 2), consider pendulum effect, sharp edges, swing clearances, etc.

b.  limited free fall (a fall less than 600mm),

c.  restraint fall or total restraint (no free fall situation)

3.  Determine appropriate risk control(s) using the following control hierarchy

a.  Level 1: Elimination controls - using an alternative design/method

b.  Level 2: Passive controls – examples are, guard railing, perimeter screens/mesh for edge protection, scaffolding, elevating work platforms, forklift platform, etc.

c.  Level 3: Work positioning controls – restraint harness prevents free fall but allow retirant fall

d.  Level 4: Fall arrest controls - a fall arrest system contains a harness connected to an anchorage point by means of a lanyard incorporating an energy absorber.

e.  Level 5: Temporary work platforms and ladders – these do not offer fall protection and therefore should be the last form of work access equipment to be considered. See the guidelines on the WorkSafe website: https://worksafe.govt.nz/dmsdocument/500-best-practice-guidelines-for-working-at-height-in-new-zealand

4.  Document your plan and obtain approval from the site health and safety manager/advisor. Ensure those involved with the task have had input. 

5.  Notify WorkSafe if the risk of falling is 5m or more within 24 hours using this form: www.forms.worksafe.govt.nz/hazardous-work-notification/

6.  Implement the plan, monitor the work progress continuously and take appropriate corrective action as required.