Working at Height Safely Guidelines

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Purpose and Scope

People falling from height, or being struck by objects that fall from height, result in more death and disabling injuries than any other occupational hazard. This is not only in South Africa but across the world in both developing and developed nations.

Therefore, documenting the fundamental responsibilities of employers will work to reduce the number of fatalities and disabilities caused in this way. These responsibilities can be broken down as follows:

•              Developing, implementing and continuously improving safe systems of work

•              Providing safe access and egress to work locations

•              Conducting countinuous hazard and identification and risk assessment to confirm environments are safe and remain that way throughout every task

•              Ensuring safe and compliant equipment is provided, maintained and used correctly

•              Confirming employees are competent to do the work expected of them and receive continual professional development

The purpose of this document is to provide people with the necessary basic knowledge to understand and make safe any task that is to be carried out at height. It was developed with input from several industry experts, in their individual fields, looking at ways of improving current practices and making work at height safer for everyone.

The scope did not focus on any one particular industry, such as construction or mining, but rather at anybody who, through the course of their work, is required to be in an elevated position and at a risk of falling. An elevated position is considered to be a position from where a person could fall a distance liable to cause personal injury, into,off of or on to.

The Document aims to provide suitable and sufficient content to allow informed decisions to be made whilst applying duties of care. Take a step back, before work commences to ask ‘have we done enough to safeguard ourselves and others?’ is paramount to successfully working safely at height as well as carrying out any activity in a safe and controlled manner.

Although every eventuality has been attempted to be covered, unsafe actions and various conditions may still lead to events that cause injury or ill health to workers and to bystanders.

Accidents, near-miss events and dangerous occurrences must be part of the overall planning of safe Work at Height. All companies should have policies and procedure in place for reporting accidents and should always follow the stated protocols and reporting methods, ensuring the employer is notified immediately. In addition, the accident scene should never be tampered with until so authorised by the employer, unless to save life or prevent further harm.

Rescue guidelines must also be an integral part of the plans and procedures. Looking at the probability of how harm will occur will provide the best insight into necessary equipment and methods required for potential rescue. Carrying out training and drills, with the people involved with rescue teams, will further assist in achieving the ultimate goals.

The ultimate goal is to prevent accidents, save lives and reduce the number of working at height events that cause death, disabling injuries and suffering damage.”