From Worksafe: Working at height and ensure your workers are using equipment correctly!

WorkSafe is warning the construction industry that it is unacceptable for workers to continue being harmed from the well-known risk of working at height.

Lindsay Whyte Painters and Decorators Ltd was sentenced in the Oamaru District Court after a worker fell 2.8 metres, from a roof with no edge protection, through a glass table onto concrete in April 2016. Two workers were on the roof and exposed to the risk of fall.

WorkSafe’s investigation found that the business had failed to identify the risk of a fall, failed to put any fall protection in place and did not ensure workers were trained and instructed in working at height.

“The best controls are those that don’t require active judgement by a worker. This includes solutions such as edge protection or scaffolding. If a worker slips or missteps, as we saw in this case, there is a physical barrier between themselves and the ground below”.

WorkSafe New Zealand is reminding workplaces to ensure their workers are using their health and safety equipment correctly.

This comment follows the sentencing of McKee-Fehl Constructors Limited today in Wellington District Court.

WorkSafe prosecuted McKee-Fehl over the injury of a contractor at a Wellington demolition site on 29 March 2016. The worker fell 3.9 metres onto a concrete floor, resulting in significant head injuries.

WorkSafe’s investigation found that although workers were using a fall restraint harness system onsite, the supervision and training of the harness use was inadequate.

The incident draws attention to the difference between group controls and individual controls when mitigating risks.

“Individual controls, like a harness, only look after individuals and rely on active judgement by the user for them to work safely. Training, inspection and equipment maintenance are critical for these measures to be effective.” said WorkSafe Manager Technical Programmes and Support, Simon Humphries.

“The preferred approach is to apply group controls that isolate multiple workers from the risk of falling. The best work methods are those that don’t require any active judgement by the workers to keep themselves safe, such as edge protection or scaffolding”.

The WorkSafe investigation found that the company had failed to ensure that the hazard of a fall from height was appropriately managed.

McKee-Fehl took a number of remedial steps following the incident and prior to prosecution such as reinforcing that workers are to clip their lanyards on to a safety line and formally training a large number of workers in working at heights.

McKee-Fehl Constructors Limited was fined $39,500 and ordered to pay reparations to the victim of $58,421 in the Wellington District Court.