Workplace Health and Safety Queensland has recently released a reminder to all workers and employers to prevent serious falls from height following several recent incidents at the Gold Coast currently being investigated.
In a recent incident in Ashmore, a worker fell through non-structural, non-weight bearing polycarbonate sheeting from a roof to the floor 4 metres below. The man was not seriously injured.
The incident highlighted the importance of treating all roofs as fragile until a competent person has confirmed they are not. No sheeted roof should be relied on to bear a person’s weight, including roof ridge and purlins. Roofs are likely to be fragile if they are made with asbestos roofing sheets, polycarbonate or plastic commonly used in skylights, roof lights, fibre cement sheets, liner panels on built-up sheeted roofs, metal sheets, and fasteners were corroded, glass including wired glass, chipboard or similar material were rotted, and wood slabs, slates and tiles.
Workplace Health and Safety Queensland says protection should be provided if there is a risk of falling through the roof and work is being done on top of the roof. Control measures to protect workers from fall injuries include using an elevating work platform so workers can avoid standing on the roof itself; barriers such as guard rails or covers that are secured and labelled with a warning; guard rails fitted to all work and access staging or platforms, walkways or crawl boards of a suitable size and strength, staging on the roof surface to spread the loads; safety mesh secured under fragile roofing or skylights; or a harness system with adequate anchorage points, along with proper training and supervision.
According to recent statistics, 21 workers lodge a worker’s compensation claim for a fall-related injury requiring one or more weeks off work across all industries. About 1,700 falls from height cause serious injuries in Queensland every year.
More information about work at heights and managing the risks of falls at workplaces can be found on www.worksafe.qld.gov.au.