Safety Tips for Working at Heights and Why They are So Important

No matter how many times you have to work at a dangerous height, whether it’s infrequently or often, working safely is your priority. Just one slight mistake can turn a routine job into a serious injury, or worse – a fatality. Even if not fatal, the impact of injuries on workers and third parties can be very serious indeed. Falls from even what is perceived as a small height of 4 feet for instance can cause soft tissue injuries, fractures, spinal injuries and traumatic brain injuries.

Reported causes of death in the workplace 2019:

  • 183 died of injuries sustained while working
    • 97% were male
    • 79 died at work in vehicle accidents                     
    • 21 died falling from height
    • 7 died from being hit by moving objects
    • 21 died from being hit by falling objects

Source: SWA work-related traumatic injury fatalities, Australia 2019

Know What Qualifies as “Working at Height”?

In Australia working at height is legally described as “a risk of a fall from one level to another that is reasonably likely to cause injury to the worker or another person”. This also covers falling from one level to another or from ground level into a pit or lower level. Falls that happen on the same height when slipping or getting caught on an object are not considered as to have happened when working at height.

Assess the Risk

Prior to any work, risk assessment must be carried out. If the height is above 2 metres in construction or 3 metres in housing then a simple risk assessment is inadequate and you must complete a “Safe Work Method Statement” by law. Identifying hazards and knowing what physical requirements will be required at a site are important as these should be done first. If you have failed to spot potential hazards or seen what requirements like railings are required for the site anything you do from this point on is severely compromised. Knowledge of what is a risk and how to spot one is crucial.

Use the Proper PPE and Inspect It

There is a lot of personal protection equipment available and knowing what to use for the right situation is crucial, but so is inspecting it. One of the most common pieces of protection when working at height is a harness or lanyard. Even these simple devices can vary in functionality wildly and so have different benefits. A worker welding at height will need something more than    a nylon harness for example as it won’t have adequate heat protection. Comfort is also a factor so do your research and determine what personal protection is required for each task. Inspecting your gear before commencing any work is also crucial yet easily forgotten. For the time it takes to inspect wear and tear or a fault this habit is worth its weight in gold.

Training, Training and Training

Knowledge is power, and the power to save your own life as well as lives of others is undeniable. There is so much to learn and if you want your employees to work safely at heights then training is the best way forward to prevent accidents.

Why Businesses Need Confined Space Training

Working in a confined space in any industry can be very dangerous indeed so it must be managed and employees must be trained on the risks. Confined spaces present all sorts of hazards, not just the restricted movement of the space itself, but its accessibility, its atmosphere, visibility and contaminants etc. The list of potential hazards is huge so being fully trained on a confined space safety course is not only a legal requirement, but one that could save lives. The types of confined spaces are as numerous as the hazards they present – tankers, silos, trenches, engine rooms, sewer systems and crawl spaces etc.

Who Is Confined Space Training For?

It’s not only the worker that enters a confined space that needs training, but training is required for those who:

  • Undertake hazard or risk assessment
    • Implement risk control measures
    • Issue entry permits
    • Workers acting as standby or communicating with workers in a confined space
    • Monitor conditions while work is carried out
    • Purchase equipment for working in a confined space
    • Design or layout work areas that include confined spaces

In QLD alone, 92% of accidents in confined spaces were due to lack of or inadequate training, in a report by Fire and Safety Australia in 2019.

What Defines a Confined Space?

According to the govt, a confined space is one that:

  • Is not designed or intended primarily to be occupied by a person
    • Is, or is designed or intended to be, at normal atmospheric pressure while a person is in the space
    • Has a limited means of entry and exit
    • Is or is likely to be a risk because of the atmosphere, contaminants or engulfment, or an unsafe level of oxygen

The specific WHS legislation laid out in 2011 can be found here.

What does a “Confined Space Training” Course Teach You?

The course is designed to give students the necessary skills and knowledge to safely and competently work in confined spaces. The course covers (but is not restricted to) the following:

  • Applicable Legislations and company confined space procedures
    • Definitions and types of confined spaces
    • Hazard identification and risk management procedures
    • Hazardous atmospheres including gas monitoring techniques
    • Isolation, purging, ventilation
    • Roles and responsibilities of team including standby
    • Rescue equipment and procedures
    • Industry case studies

Ultimately the course teaches students to identify what is a confined space and identify risks and hazards so appropriate action can be taken.

Benefits of Confined Space Training to businesses and Employers

Your workers and employees will be competent in:

  • Identifying Risks and Hazards
    • How to Handle an Emergency
    • Business Compliance
    • Encourages Leadership
    • Peace of Mind

At the end of the day, the main reason is to save lives, but courses are sometimes seen as an unnecessary expense, even though they are a legal requirement. The truth is that if saving lives weren’t enough, actually the cost to your business from an accident or a fatality is actually a lot more expensive.

Our courses are delivered in custom facilities across QLD, Tasmania and SA, to find out how we can help your business more with these courses call (07) 5491 2144.

What is Operate Breathing Apparatus Training?

This is a safety requirement for workers who typically have to operate in hazardous atmospheres and confined spaces where there are toxic fumes or chemicals present, or an unsafe level of oxygen and have to operate a self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA). The course does not cover the use of rebreather (closed circuit) apparatus.

The course covers three main areas:

  1. Conduct pre-donning checks and tests on breathing apparatus
    1. Operate breathing apparatus
    1. Conclude operations in accordance with procedures

Being competent in these areas means workers skills are vastly increased in identifying multiple types of hazards which are essential when operating breathing apparatus in any environment, especially confined spaces and where toxic gasses, fumes or lack of oxygen are present. Course covers operating alone and in teams to cover all real world scenarios.

Who is Operate Breathing Apparatus Training for?

Typically workers are required to wear breathing apparatus when:

  • In a confined space
    • With hazardous gases/vapours
    • In an oxygen deficient atmosphere
    • In other situations requiring the wearing of breathing apparatus

There are other situations where breathing apparatus is required, like emergencies but the operate breathing apparatus training course is primarily designed for the above. There are no pre-requisites but students must be literate in the English language and be able to perform tasks wearing 12 Kgs of equipment. The 1 day course is ideal for companies who have workers operating in these conditions such as:

  • Mining Industry
    • Civil Construction Industry
    • Oil & Gas Industry
    • Power Generation Industry
    • Maintenance & Shutdown Industry

Types of Environments and Conditions

As part of the course, it’s mandatory to be able to operate in different work environments and conditions that may affect performance. Our courses are delivered face to face at one of Link Resources purpose-built training facilities in Brisbane, Sunshine Coast, Devonport, Hobart and Adelaide.

If an organisation or company has specific requirements we can provide training and assessment on-site to groups by arrangement. Where assessment is undertaken on the job appropriate supervision and safety precautions must be provided.

What Types of Breathing Apparatus are Covered?

The operate breathing apparatus course is designed around one or more open circuit systems. These include self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA), airline equipment and other similar breathing apparatus. It does not include rebreather systems which are designed for underwater use.

Course Benefits

Being able to work in an emergency or other hazardous environment safely will require good knowledge of checking and also operating the breathing apparatus correctly. Mistakes in these crucial areas will lead to accidents and potentially fatalities. All the course requirements are focused on safety and will give students the necessary skills to perform correctly in any situation. Our courses are delivered in custom facilities across QLD, Tasmania and SA, to find out how we can help your business more with these courses call (07) 5491 2144.

How Do We Train for “Working at Heights” and What’s Involved

All employers in Australia must ensure their workers are trained for working at heights. This crucially important piece of legislation was introduced in QLD in 2011. It varies slightly from

State to State and Territory to Territory, but the regulations themselves are largely the same and all with one common goal, to prevent injuries and death. The act also protects those liable like employers, facilities managers, building owners and anyone else that controls work at height.

Anyone working at height must undergo Working at Heights safety training by an accredited RTO (registered training organisation).

How Do You Get Trained for “Working at Height”?

If you are self employed you would enrol yourself, but mostly employers will send their employees on the course at their expense. Most RTO’s will work closely with employers as one size does not fit all. A good RTO will understand the specific needs of a company and will structure the training around their company and their staff.

There are some simple entry requirements though. All students must be literate in the English language (no interpreters allowed). Students must also have a reasonable level of mental and physical fitness as there are physical performance requirements, so people with underlying injuries or ailments may find it difficult to access the training areas or wear a harness for extended periods.

How Long is “Working at Heights” Training Course?

The course takes 8 hours and is face to face with an instructor. Usually, courses are run at dedicated training facilities, but some larger companies can schedule training on their premises by arrangement. All students who pass will receive a Statement of Attainment recognised under the Australian Qualifications Framework. This certification is nationally recognised.

What does a Working at Heights Course Teach You?

The training involves the necessary skills and knowledge to safely and competently work safely at heights to industry, workplace health and safety and Australian standards. During the day you will be taught and tested on the following areas:

  • Statistics
    • Legislation and company procedures
    • Risk Management
    • Definitions and types working at height activities
    • Equipment selection and correct use
    • Anchor systems (including selecting anchorage)
    • Fall restraint systems
    • Fall arrest systems
    • Work positioning systems
    • Correct use of ladders and ladder safety training
    • Rescue equipment and procedures
    • Industry case studies

Further Training Courses and Qualifications

After achieving the “working at heights” training course this opens up pathways to other associated resources and infrastructure units and qualifications which in turn lead to new employment opportunities in civil, construction, resources, manufacturing, utilities and maintenance industries.

As you can see the training course is just one day, incredibly important and also a legal requirement for working at heights in Australia. Leading RTO’s like Link Resources have dedicated training facilities all across QLD with center’s in Sydney and Tasmania too making it easy to access.