Dangers associated with working at heights
Thursday 22 June 2000
The Occupational Safety and Health Service (OSH) of the Department of Labour is warning of the dangers associated with working at heights.
The warning follows a court case in Christchurch yesterday where an Invercargill company was fined $4750 after a worker fell more than three metres from an unprotected walkway in November 1999.
Geo W Wilson & Sons Limited yesterday pleaded guilty in the Christchurch District Court to a charge taken under the Health and Safety in Employment Act of failing to take all practicable steps to ensure the safety of an employee. Half the fine was awarded to the victim.
The worker was injured when he accidentally stepped from the edge of an unguarded floor area in a loft above a workshop and fell through the ceiling to the concrete floor below.
He fell more than three metres suffering a fractured right arm requiring several weeks off work.
OSH Invercargill acting branch manager Murray Leighton said the accident highlighted the general dangers inherent in working at heights. From July 1 1999 to the end of May 2000, OSH had investigated 12 deaths in the construction industry alone associated with falls from heights. Many other workers had suffered serious injuries.
"In this case, the company should have installed a guardrail around the perimeter of the loft storage area flooring and walkway to prevent an employee stepping off the edge of the safe flooring area and falling through the ceiling."
People need to be aware of the hazards in the workplace such as unprotected walkways. Particular care was needed when working in ceiling cavities or mezzanine floors.