Working at Heights: Fall Protection Guide

Working at HeightsProfessions and industries that require working at heights have site policies and regulatory requirements to follow. Under the law, contractors and project managers have the obligation to protect workers from injury and other accidents.

Although there are varying height requirements for fall protection, and contracts and site policies may vary across tasks and industries, here are the basics that employers should expect to abide by when working at heights.

Required Height for Fall Protection

According to Vertical Horizons NZ, any job site that requires elevated tasks should have a variety of means to arrest falls. If the task is 4 feet and up, the job site should have fall arrest systems, railings, and other safety means. Bear in mind that the required height varies depending on the nature of the task.

If it’s a shipyard or marine terminal work, the trigger height should be four or five feet, depending on the situation. In a construction site, six feet is the default height. If the job site has scaffolding greater than 10 feet, you no longer need rails and other protection means.

Fall Protection Plan

As mentioned earlier, any job site that requires workers to work at heights should have sufficient means to protect employees from falling. As a site manager or project head, you are responsible for identifying and preparing the required fall protection plan.

You should evaluate the job site carefully and see to it that every workstation is protected. If there are obstacles, equipment, and machinery into or from which workers could fall, they must also have fall protection or machine guarding.

Fall Arrest

Scaffolding and harnesses are fall prevention measures while a fall arrest system is the form of protection which involves the safe stopping of a person who’s already falling. Examples of fall guarding systems are guard rails, fall restraint lanyards, and safety nets.

Employees should also wear personal arrest systems that include a full body harness, a subsistent component that connects the harness to the anchorage, a deceleration device designed to dissipate during a fall, a rigged anchorage and other emergency equipment.

The law also obligates workers to have fall protection training, as well as the use of emergency equipment. Workers should also have hands-on knowledge of fall protection guidelines and how they can rescue suspended fellow workers and how to help them recover.

Without following these measures, workers will be at high risks of falling and experiencing fall trauma. The code strictly obliges employers and site managers to have their own fall risk and protection management plan.

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