Preventing falls project enters proactive enforcement stage
25 July 2012
The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has launched a project to raise awareness about working safely at height and reduce the human and financial toll caused by falls from height. The Preventing Falls from Height project focuses on ladder and roof safety in the construction sector.
“Builders, roofers, electrical workers, painters and decorators are the most likely to fall from height and get seriously hurt while they are working,” says Francois Barton, the Labour Group’s Manager – Harm Reduction.
The Best Practice Guidelines for Working at Height were released earlier this year and since 1 July 2012 health and safety inspectors have been visiting worksites to target enforcement where there is significant visible non-compliance.
“These visits are not at random. Inspectors use information and knowledge from various sources to target duty holders and worksites. They will challenge any workplace that supports a view that no height hazard exists below three metres,” Mr Barton says.
Inspectors will be assessing if equipment and workplace practices comply with the HSE Act and are adequate to prevent falls from height. Compliance will be assessed across three key areas:
- Hazard management (including hazard identification and control)
- Selection, use and maintenance of equipment
- Systems for the selection and control of contractors.
Health and safety inspectors will stop any work at height not being carried out safely and will not allow the work to carry on until they are happy that the job can be completed safely.
“Investigations into construction falls from height show more than 50 percent of falls are from less than three metres and most of those are off ladders and single-storey roofs,” says Mr Barton.
“Everyone has a part to play in preventing falls. The principal, the self-employed contractor and the subcontractor, the employer and the worker each have a responsibility to ensure we cut the human and financial cost of these preventable accidents. All aspects of working safely at height should be considered. Doing nothing is not an option,” says Mr Barton.