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In 2019, a group of workers were constructing a 10-metre high loading bay scaffold. One of the workers stepped onto a single plank temporarily being used as a working platform to construct the scaffold, when the plank gave way underfoot. This caused the scaffolder to fall approximately five metres to the ground below, sustaining serious injuries.
A fall injury prevention system, such as a safety harness to arrest a fall, must be used where a person could fall three metres or more from an edge at a workplace. The scaffolder was wearing a harness with double hook lanyards, but was not hooked onto the scaffold at the time of the incident, compromising the fall arrest system. This should have provided a fail safe level of fall arrest, allowing the worker to move safely around the scaffolding, while being continually connected to a suitable anchorage point.
A person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) must manage the risks of falls. If it is reasonably practicable, work must be done on the ground or on a solid construction. Where this is not reasonably practicable, fall hazards must be controlled through adequate risk control measures.
PCBUs must prevent falls between levels by providing:
Where there are multiple PCBUs at a workplace, it is vital that PCBUs consult, cooperate and coordinate with other duty holders, to ensure that risks are eliminated or minimised so far as is reasonably practicable.
A combination of controls can be used to minimise risks so far as is reasonably practicable.
To manage the risks of scaffolds and scaffolding work, assessment of all aspects of the work, including construction, dismantling and maintenance of the scaffolding must be carried out. This includes the risks involved in working on temporary scaffolding structures during construction.
PCBUs must ensure that safe work practices and standards are not just in place but are being used on site. Worker must be notified of, and comply with, any reasonable policies or procedures relating to health and safety at the workplace, and take reasonable care for their own health and safety.
Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety
Australian/New Zealand Standards
Safe Work Australia