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The dangers of working at height

There is more to working at height than meets the eye! Working at heights is a high-risk activity and a leading cause of death and serious injury in Australia and around the globe. The effects of a fall are far-reaching, going beyond the company to the family members and even the community. Most of these injuries and deaths are totally needless and avoidable with the correct fall protection equipment, systems and training.

Between 2015 – 2019 Safe Work Australia statistics indicated the following:

Falls from a height accounted for 13% of worker fatalities (122 deaths).

Falling from buildings and other structures was one of the segments with the greatest number of fatalities.

The construction industry accounted for 40% of falls-related fatalities.

Defining working at height?

Work at height means work in any place where, if precautions are not taken, a person could fall a distance liable to cause personal injury.

You are working at height if you:

  • Work above ground/floor level.
  • Could fall from an edge, through an opening or fragile surface.
  • Could fall from ground level into an opening in a floor or a hole in the ground.

The danger of falling at height is real and can bring devastating consequences. People usually think of working at height as only being a risk when on the job above ground level. However, it also affects those working below ground where there is a risk of falling from one level to another. Engaging in activities below ground often provides working at height risks with the added complications of being in a confined space. Confined space environments include vats, tanks, pits, pipes, chimneys, silos, sewers, shafts, wells, pressure vessels, trenches and tunnels.

The primary objective when using safe working at height methods is to carry out the work efficiently, with minimal accidents, incidents or dangerous occurrences; in order to ensure that a safe system of work is maintained at all times, whilst avoiding damage to property or harm to the environment.

WAHA …reaching new levels in safety

WAHA is not-for-profit industry association dedicated to the ongoing development of the highest standards of equipment and competency of all persons involved in working at height and in confined spaces.

Established in 2009, the Working at Height Association of Australia (WAHA) was formed in response to the industry’s demand for a peak body to provide information and support for businesses needing to address working at height issues. Formerly known as the Fall Protection Manufacturer’s Association (FPMA), the members identified the need to expand its scope of involvement to offer a forum for commercial businesses as well as training companies, consumers and all those involved in working at height issues to develop a pathway to higher safety standards.

Founded to assist in the ongoing development of products, skills, training and standards for managing the height safety and confined space risks in industry, WAHA’s overall objective and vision is for safe workplaces; they seek to achieve this by:

  • Being the recognised peak industry body representing the interests of all those involved in providing products, services or advice relating to safe working at height.
  • Requiring the highest standard of skill, integrity and responsibility of all members and companies.
  • Increasing the knowledge of and compliance with safety standards of all those involved in safe working at height, including setting standards for products, their applications and use, including information that supports Codes of Practice published by regulators.
  • Facilitating the exchange of technical information and encouraging further research into industry issues around falls and confined spaces.
  • Working within the working at height industry to:
    • i) Reduce the number of injuries and fatalities resulting from people working at height.
    • ii) Drive compliance in the areas of equipment design, selection and use, as well as training competency.
    • iii) Provide a forum for industry-based discussion, issue identification and resolution.
    • iv) Be an information resource to members and to the industry in general.

For more information on the Working at Height Association and the work they do visit the WAHA website.

RIGCOM, supporting safe work at height

As the leading provider of technical services and engineered solutions at height, RIGCOM is passionate about protecting the health and safety of our at height workers as they work to protect lives and sustain assets in all types of industries and environments, whether rope access, height safety, wind or engineering services, enabling them to return home safely to their families at the end of each workday.

For many years we have supported the industry’s continued growth and innovation in working at height. As a supporting and active member of WAHA, we recognise the vital role the association plays in the protection of workers’ safety, one that cannot be overlooked. RIGCOM is proud to be a fully paid member of the Working At Height Association, holding Gold Member status. As a full member, we run our operations according to the principles, terms and conditions set forward by the board of WAHA in their Membership Code of Conduct.

As an industry ambassador, RIGCOM aligns with the Working At Height Association aims to develop policies, promote training and provide practical information on safe work at height activities for Australian workplaces. For complete peace of mind and worker safety, we offer:

  • Early consultation in the design process to uncover the associated work at height hazards and offer a comprehensive solution for your specific roof access and facade access applications; from start to finish.
  • Continuous Professional Development (CPD) presentations to building designers and architects, in person or online, to mitigate fall hazards through design and specification.

RIGCOM offers a full suite of fall protection measures to protect people working at height. Reach out to a RIGCOM specialist or explore our website if you need more information or assistance on the technical services and engineered solutions at height that we provide, or to organise an educational CPD presentation for your team.