Admiring Australia's Boldness
Anyone who designs or oversees fall protection schemes should read this proposed plan from Down Under.
- By Jerry Laws
- Nov 01, 2005
LET'S make it mandatory for building owners and designers to incorporate fall
safety during a building's design stage. Please don't tell me this is
impractical or too expensive--not when Australia's National Occupational Health
and Safety Commission is taking this bold step right now.
The Proposed National Code of Practice for the Prevention of Falls in General
Construction will set Australia's fall protection rules on a far different
course from America's if adopted as written. Comments will close Nov. 18.
I highly recommend reading the commission's draft to anyone who designs or
oversees fall protection schemes. It is comprehensive, containing checklists and
instructions for everything from risk assessment and training to uncovered floor
and roof holes, fixed and portable ladders, guardrails, formwork, trenches,
scaffolds, safety netting, and fall protection PPE such as travel restraint
systems, rope access systems, and fall arrest devices. Numerous checklists and
signage examples are provided. So are sample safe work method statements with
columns for Work Activity, Hazard, Risk Control, Person Responsible, and
The commission posted the 90-page draft in late August at the address www.nohsc.gov.au/PublicComment/Falls/PC2PreventionFallsGeneralConstruction.pdf.
The draft contains seven sections under a "Methods of controlling risk" heading:
work on the ground (Level 1 control); work from solid construction (Level 1
control); passive fall prevention (Level 2 control); work positioning systems
(Level 3 control); fall injury minimization systems (Level 4 control); use of
ladders (Level 5 control); and administrative controls (Level 5 control). The
document begins by listing the duties of clients, designers, general
contractors, subcontractors, and workers themselves.
The code would require safe work method statements to be developed for all
construction work where the individual could fall 2 meters or more (such work is
categorized as "high-risk" by the draft). "Fall risks should be eliminated, or
otherwise minimised at the design stage," it states, offering a design checklist
that lists safety considerations to be taken at that stage (such as safer
gutters, safe access to and egress from any work area including the roof,
900-1,000 mm parapet walls, low-level mounting of roof vents, locating AC units
and other roof-mounted units such as satellite dishes away from edges, etc.)
It is an excellent document that backs up a bold, innovative plan.
This editor's note appeared in the November 2005 issue of Occupational
Health & Safety.
This article originally appeared in the November 2005 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.
Jerry Laws is Editor of Occupational Health & Safety magazine, which is owned by 1105 Media Inc.