A worker in Queensland recently sustained serious head injuries after falling from a water tank that had just been put in place by a vehicle loading crane.
It appears the worker was standing on the tank close to the crane and investigations are continuing into the exact cause of the incident.
Workplace Health & Safety Queensland said falls are a major cause of death and serious injury, and the risk of falling is common in construction but may also occur during many other work activities.
The risk of serious injury from a fall is largely dependent on the height, but also the surface below, and a risk management approach must be used to manage the risks of falls from heights.
Managing work health and safety risks is an ongoing process, and Workplace Health & Safety Queensland said risk management involves four steps:
Once the risks have been assessed, the next step is to implement control measures to manage the risks associated with working at height.
Effective control measures are often made up of a combination of controls, and health and safety risks must be managed to eliminate dangers. However, if it’s not reasonably practicable to eliminate the risk, then it should be minimised using the hierarchy of controls. This can be achieved by doing one or more of the following:
Substitution controls: Substituting the hazard with something of lesser risk (e.g. using an elevating work platform so workers can avoid standing on a ladder to perform the task). Where regular access is required, consider fixed access systems such as stairways and platforms.
Engineering controls: This involves changing physical characteristics of the plant and/or system of work to reduce the risk. Examples may include:
gauges and inspection points accessible from the ground
Administrative controls: This includes information, training, instruction or supervision necessary to control the risks associated with plant. All operating manuals and instructional material provided by the manufacturer showing how to correctly operate and maintain the plant should be kept and followed. Examples include, but are not limited to:
implementing a safe system of work that considers:
Personal protective equipment (PPE): Any remaining risk must be minimised with suitable personal protective equipment. For example:
the use of hard hats, steel cap boots and high visibility vests