SafeWork SA has released a safety alert to highlight the dangers of working at height on ladders. On 10 April 2021, SafeWork SA received notification of a serious incident involving a worker at a quarry. The worker sustained life-threatening injuries after falling approximately 5 metres whilst carrying out planned maintenance work on a crusher plant.
SafeWork SA suggests:
- the injured worker had been carrying out a task that involved the use of an “A” frame ladder
- the ladder was positioned on a raised platform where part of the guardrail had been removed
- the worker was alone at the time of the incident when he fell from the platform.
SafeWork SA reminds businesses and workers to ensure the following safe systems of work are developed, implemented and maintained to minimise the risk of falls from heights.
- Reasonable fall protection measures have been put in place
- Comprehensive risk assessments have been undertaken when working at height
- Persons working at height have been trained and assessed as competent in the controls to minimise the risk of falls
- Information, training and instruction are provided to a work necessary to protect all persons from the risks arising when working at height, and
- Workers exposed to the risk of a fall are adequately supervised by a competent person.
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Falls from heights has been identified as a key safety risk in Australian workplaces by Safework Australia.
Data shows that in 2019, 21 Australian workers died from falls at work.
Falls from height accounted for 122 fatalities, or 13 per cent of worker fatalities in Australia during the past five years.
According to Safework Australia, workers most at risk were those in the construction industry, with most fatalities caused by falls from buildings or other structures.
Mining related incidents appear still to be occurring during 2020 with a mineworker falling at the Saracen Gold Mine in WA.
Incidents have been known to occur around:
- Mobile work platforms enable personnel to access difficult-to-reach areas, especially those at heights. In addition to falling from these stages, employees may be caught in between rock faces and the platforms themselves.
- Fixed work structures are ladders, scaffolds, pinned platforms and other assets that are either permanent or semi-constant. Some of the hazards are related to assembling and dismantling such structures and the stability of the rock mass on which they are constructed.
- Working near openings (including but not limited to stopes) presents the chance of employees falling down shafts or pits and sustaining serious injuries.