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Heading for a Fall? Applying a Code of Practice Can Prevent That

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Have you seen SafeWork NSW’s recent release of statistics about falls in the workplace in its latest newsletter, Safety Wrap #28? If you did you may have been shocked and surprised about these statistics.

In the years 2012 to 2015 the result of workers falling from a height in NSW was;

  • 17,835 workers were injured
  • 233 were permanently disabled
  • 25 workers died

Falls from height can occur in many industries. Your workplace may have one or more areas where there is a potential for falling from one level to another, particularly when maintenance, renovation, or new installations are required. Predominantly fall from height incidents occur in industries such as,

manufacturing, construction, telecommunications, transport, agriculture and forestry.

SafeWork NSW commenced a 12 month blitz on construction sites in November 2017 and were surprised to find that:

  • more than 50% of worksites had unsafe scaffolding
  • more that 25% did not have proper edge protection
  • nearly 25% did not give a site safety induction to their workers

An effective solution to the danger of falls is to ensure that the guidance in the Code of Practice for Managing the Risk of Falls at Workplaces is applied to all the relevant situations in your workplace. This Code applies to all NSW workplaces where there is a risk of a fall by a person from one level to another that is reasonably likely to cause injury.

The bonus that comes with applying the guidance in a Code in your workplace is that what you do is usually acceptable in Court as evidence that you have complied with the requirements of the WHS legislation. (See page 4 of the Code)

The scope and application of the Code of Practice for Managing the Risk of Falls at Workplaces is specifically for situations where there is a risk of a fall by a person from one level to another. (See page 4 of the Code)

Situations in a workplace where there is a risk of a person falling to the level they are already on is best handled by using the general advice on managing risk in the How to Manage Work Health & Safety Risks Code of Practice.

Time spent on applying the guidance in a Code of Practice can be time well spent. It is probably far less than the time that might be spent on dealing with the consequences of injuries, disabilities or fatality that may occur because risk was not managed to the level recommended by the Code.

17th April 2018

You are welcome to download and distribute the article in your workplace if you feel it may be useful

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