WorkSafe Victoria recently issued a safety alert following an incident in which a worker slipped off a roof and fell through the guardrail system on a catch platform at a housing construction site.
A young worker has been critically injured from a fall that occurred while he was performing metal roof installation works on a double-storey house under construction.
The worker slipped, then slid down the metal roof sheeting off the roof, through the guard rails that were on the perimeter scaffold, and fell approximately 6 metres to the ground.
Falls are a leading cause of serious and fatal incidents in construction. In recent months, the Victorian construction industry has seen a number of serious and fatal fall incidents where risk control measures are not in place or not adequately controlling the risk of a fall.
In the housing construction sector, scaffolds and proprietary catch platform systems are often set up before the high-risk construction work commences and are in place for the duration of the works.
The alert suggested a number of recommended ways to control risks.
Where the roof pitch is no greater than 26 degrees, the catch platform should be positioned as close to the underside of the roof as possible, and never more than 1 metre below the roof edge.
Where the roof pitch is greater than 26 degrees or roofing materials are slippery (regardless of roof pitch), the catch platform should be positioned as close to the underside of the roof as possible, and never more than 300mm below the roof edge.
Where the slope of a roof exceeds 35 degrees, the roof is an inappropriate surface to stand on even with guard-railing or a catch platform.
A summary of catch platform positioning requirements is below:
Roof pitch 26 degrees or less: As close as feasible to the underside of the roof and not exceeding 1 metre below.
Roof pitch greater than 26 degrees: As close as feasible to the underside of the roof and not exceeding 300mm below.
Slippery roofing materials, regardless of pitch: As close as feasible to the underside of the roof and not exceeding 300mm below.
Construction work involving a risk of a fall from more than 2 metres is high-risk construction work, and the alert said an employer or self-employed person must prepare an SWMS for high-risk construction work before the work commences.
The work must be performed in accordance with the SWMS, and if the high-risk construction work changes or if there is an indication that control measures are not adequately controlling the risks, the SWMS must be reviewed and, if necessary, revised.