New guidance available for inspecting and maintaining elevating work platforms

Did you know that elevating work platforms, or EWPs, need to be inspected at least annually?

Safe Work Australia has published new guidance for inspecting and maintaining EWPs.

Elevating work platforms are high risk equipment that have caused 9 worker fatalities in the past 5 years (2015-2019). An inspection, maintenance and testing program is crucial to assess their safe operation.

There are different types of EWPs, including:

  • scissor lifts
  • self-propelled boom lifts
  • trailer or vehicle mounted lifts, and
  • telehandlers with elevating work platform attachment.

Employers are responsible for keeping workers safe and this includes ensuring that plant equipment is inspected and maintained. Employers must also ensure that workers are given the necessary information, training, instruction and supervision to use EWPs safely.

Read SafeWork Australia’s guidance to make sure you are eliminating or minimising the risks of working with EWPs.

Source: SafeWork Australia

What Solar Installers Must Know about Working at Heights

https://sourceable.net/what-solar-installers-must-know-about-working-at-height/

Working on roofs involves a high degree of risk, Safe Work NSW and other State and Federal Regulators have been concerned at the mounting number of injuries and death when workers are fitting Solar panels to cottage roofs.

Fitting Solar panels and equipment to the roofs of cottages and other buildings such as high Rise & Industrial Buildings leaves the worker exposed to hazards such as roof access, fragile roofs, electricity, manual tasks, falling objects, exposure to heat and sunlight.

All work on roofs is highly dangerous, even if a job only takes a few minutes. Proper precautions are needed to control these risks and such work may be considered ‘construction work ‘which includes work carried out in connection with fitting to, altering, converting, renovating, repairing, maintaining, demolishing, or dismantling a roof of a structure.

Examples of these activities include tiling, roofing restoration and installing solar panels. Minor work on roofs that is not considered ‘construction work’, for example cleaning roof gutters or replacing individual roof tiles, can also have the same hazards, especially the risk of falls.

Safe Work require those carrying out work on roofs must be trained, competent and instructed in use of the precautions required though do not mandate this training. A ‘method statement’ is the common way to help manage work on roofs and communicate the precautions to those involved.

Contractors should work closely with the client and agree arrangements for managing the work specifically for roof access, roof edges, openings, skylights, and fragile roofs

There is a misconception that Working at height means working at a height of 2 meters or more.

Working at heights is where there is a risk of falling from one level to another – injury and death may occur in heights less than 2 meters and falls from any height can leave workers with permanent and debilitating injuries such as fractures, spinal cord injuries, concussion and brain damage. The risk of serious injury or death from a fall increases when working on roofs.

Hazards to consider in managing fall risks include:

  • unprotected edges
  • fragile surfaces
  • skylights
  • holes or vents

Additionally, weather conditions such as wind and rain (for example being blown over the edge or slipping on a wet roof surface), trip hazards (for example roof components and protrusions) and overbalancing when close to an edge while hauling components onto the roof or losing grip on steep pitched or sloping roofs.

Workers such as electricians, plumbers, pest control operators, installers of roof aerials, solar panels, and air-conditioning systems, can trip and fall on roofs, through roofs and openings or while accessing or exiting roof areas.

Work Safe statistical figures suggest almost one in five deaths in construction work involve roof work. Some are specialist roofers, but many are just repairing and cleaning roofs.

  • Main causes: the main causes of death and injury are falling from roof edges or openings, through fragile roofs and through fragile roof lights.
  • Equipment and people: many accidents could be avoided if suitable equipment was used and those doing the work were given adequate information, instruction, training and supervision.

When planning to work on a roof one of the first areas we should look to is the safe access to a roof which requires careful planning, particularly where work progresses along the roof.

Typical methods to access roofs are:

  • general access scaffolds;
  • stair towers;
  • fixed or mobile scaffold towers;
  • mobile access equipment;
  • ladders
  • roof access hatches.

Roof edges and openings

Falls from roof edges occur on both commercial and domestic projects and on new build and refurbishment jobs. Many deaths occur each year involving smaller builders working on the roof of domestic dwellings

  • Sloping roofs: sloping roofs require scaffolding to prevent people or materials falling from the edge. You must also fit edge protection to the eaves of any roof and on terraced properties to the rear as well as the front. Where work is of short duration (tasks measured in minutes), properly secured ladders to access the roof and appropriate roof ladders may be used.
  • Flat roofs: falls from flat roof edges can be prevented by simple edge protection arrangements (there are several different types of edge protection available) – which can be easily mounted and secure the roof edge

Fragile surfaces

Special care needs to be taken when working on fragile roofs, follow a safe system of work using a platform beneath the roof where possible. Work on or near fragile roof surfaces requires a possible combination of staging’s, guard rails, fall restraint, fall arrest and safety nets slung beneath and close to the roof.

  • Fragile roofs: all roofs should be treated as fragile until a competent person has confirmed they are not. Do not trust any sheeted roof, whatever the material, to bear the weight of a person. This includes the roof ridge and purlins.
  • Fragile roof lightsare a particular hazard. Some are difficult to see in certain light conditions and others may be hidden by paint. You must provide protection in these areas, either by using barriers or covers that are secured and labelled with a warning.

The risk of falls must be managed using the most effective control measures that are reasonably practicable, in accordance with the hierarchy of controls. If a single control measure is not enough, a combination of control measures can be used. In order of the hierarchy of control, control measures start with eliminating the risk of falls by avoiding the need to work at height.

For example, installing air-conditioning and similar units at ground level, using devices with extension handles to reach items on or near the roof.

Reducing the amount of time spent working on roofs if working at height cannot be avoided, providing the following safe systems of work such as fall prevention devices. This may be achieved through roof safety mesh, guard railing, scaffolding or elevating work platforms if fall prevention devices are not reasonably practicable, use work positioning systems. Additional systems include travel restraints—these are designed to prevent workers from reaching an edge where they could fall, or if work positioning systems are not reasonably practicable, use fall-arrest systems.

Examples of fall arrest systems include catch platforms, individual fall-arrest systems with harnesses and anchor points and safety nets—these are designed to reduce the severity of injury in a fall. For minor roof tasks of short duration (less than a couple of hours) that are carried out in good weather conditions on a standard single storey roof where the roof itself is flat or almost flat, structurally stable, and non-slippery, safe work procedures (e.g., ensuring workers maintain a 2-metre distance from all exposed edges when working on the roof) and the safe use of ladders may be sufficient to minimise the risk of a fall.

Safe Work NSW has released a SOLAR Installers check list which may be found on their web site www.safework.nsw.gov.au/…/solar-installers-safety-checklist other Regulators have work practice documents providing information on Safe Work on roofs, these documents are supported by regulation and should assist in the preparation of safe work practices which may be reflected in the Safe Work Statements.

The safety guide provides the solar industry with clear direction on controlling risk, including a simple safety checklist for people working in the industry, instructions on developing a site-specific safe work method statement and minimum fall protection measures. Businesses that sell, design and install solar systems have duties to provide and maintain a working environment that is safe, and no solar installer should be working on a roof without fall protection in place.

Article by CEO Richard Millar, for Sourceable.

Cranes and lifting equipment a serious injury risk

Workplace Health and Safety Queensland confirm there have been numerous incidents at Queensland workplaces this year involving cranes and lifting equipment that had the potential to cause serious injury to workers.

The cause of these incidents can be broken into five broad categories:

  • failure due to incorrect slinging and rigging techniques
  • loose objects falling from loads being lifted
  • loads colliding with adjacent structures or plant causing items to dislodge and fall
  • cranes not being used in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions
  • incorrect crane selection and siting.

Incorrect rigging and slinging techniques

Workers should be trained and verified to perform tasks and it is vital the crane is rigged to the manufacturer’s instructions. If practicable, utilise engineered lifting points.

These measures should be complemented by:

  • selecting the right equipment, ensuring chains/slings have sufficient WLL, and when lifting with synthetic slings, using sling protection
  • following guides provided by the designer, manufacturer or supplier and consulting with workers, with pre-start meetings discussing proposed safe methods
  • ensuring doggers/riggers in control of the load are outside the zone where they could be struck – and implementing exclusion zones so workers not involved are outside the lifting area
  • ensuring equipment is inspected and is up to date as specified by the manufacturer.

Loose objects falling from loads being lifted

Ensure a safe system of work is in place to conduct, inspect and remove all loose items from loads prior to lifting (e.g. loose z-bar nuts on formwork shutters, items above the fill line of a skip bin) and don’t overfill bins or lifting boxes. Avoid items that protrude or overhang from the bin or lifting box.

Cover bins and lifting boxes and don’t rely on plastic wrap or similar methods to retain objects lifted in bulk. Loose items should be inside a lifting box/cradle or strapped with form ply.

Loads colliding with adjacent structures or plant

Before work begins, design the workplace layout to locate storage and delivery areas away from structures so that loads can be lifted free of obstructions. Use tag lines to stabilise loads where required and monitor wind conditions and only lift when safe to do so.

Ensure that the dogger or rigger has clear sight of the load and can direct the crane operator as needed. Plant like concrete placing booms should be away from the crane or the lifting operations – and if other equipment is operating on site, have a safe system of work for the interaction.

Cranes not being used in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions

All operators need the appropriate high-risk work licence for the type of crane, and familiarisation training must be conducted for the specific crane. Procedures must be in place to ensure workers follow the manufacturer’s instructions, particularly during setup and shutdown.

Incorrect crane selection and siting causing crane overturning

Ensure the right capacity crane is selected to prevent the plant from overturning and at all times focus on the heaviest loads and maximum lift radius. Consultation should occur to verify the safest site location for assembly, with ground conditions assessed.

Further information

Read the Tower Crane Code of Practice 2017 and Mobile Crane Code of Practice 2006

Amendment to Australian Standard: 1891 Part 4

Updated Australian Standard: 1891 Part 4

An amendment has been released for ASNZS 1891.4 – Industrial Fall-arrest systems and Devices: Selection Use and Maintenance.The amendment is not to any content other than references to standards that have been introduced or changed since the standard was first written.

This includes:– ASNZS 5532 addition– ASNZS 1891.5 addition and removal of AS/NZS 1891.1 references to lanyards and pole straps– ASNZS 4488 removal and addition of ISO 22846

These Standards are now available for purchase through http://www.standards.org.au

A huge thank you to WAHA Members and Representatives who have worked on the SF015 Committee with Standards Australia over the last several years.