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The Journal for Employee Protection
The Journal for Employee Protection
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Delving into a more comprehensive approach to differentiating work at height systems, in the following article Mark Da Silva explores Gallagher’s classification of systems type (Gallagher, 2000:79-83).
Theoretically, the types identified all meet the basic requirements of an OHSMS – a formalised management system to improve OHS comprising a complex set of inter-related programme elements. However, the four are distinguished first by different OHS control strategies and second by different management structures and styles. OHS control strategies are categorised as either ‘safe person’ or ‘safe place’. Management structures and styles are either ‘traditional’ or ‘innovative’. These are explained below.
The four approaches to health and safety management are identified from the findings of the literature on health and safety management systems and types of systems, and from the emerging case evidence. The four approaches and their characteristics are identified below:
These approaches are combined into the following four types of health and safety management system.
Managing the risk of falls at workplaces where there is a risk of a fall by a person from one level to another that is reasonably likely to cause injury is the description or determination of a fall. This can occur from the perspective of the innovative/safe place approach, rather than traditional/ safe person based.
The best part of ensuring elimination of a potential hazard is at the initial design stage (project development-strategic, concept or detailed design) process of the asset or project lifecycle examining areas within the innovative safe place-adaptive hazard managers. This is where anything that has been pencilled in can be literally rubbed out and erased on paper; while there is still an opportunity to apply practical solutions to manage the risks of falls in the workplace. Conversely, it’s too late to change and at a considerable cost when progressing each lifecycle stage in the project delivery of construction, operation or maintenance.
Health and safety in design is paramount for not only good design, but parallel to good safety business outcomes within all workplaces. Design considerations for the potential risk of falls early on in the piece when designing plant or structures can result in the elimination of such risks. Conversely, where elimination is not possible, one way to minimise risks at the design stage is to integrate fall prevention systems into the design.
Safety considerations at the design stage should include areas such as:
These groups include:
Whereas plant health and safety in design may include areas such as:
Whereas health and safety in design for buildings and structures must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable areas such include:
The design and planning for the construction stage should include:
Planning for building maintenance
During the planning stage, consideration should also be given to the methods by which maintenance, repairs or cleaning will be undertaken on a building or structure, for example:
Planning the site layout
When planning the site layout, the following factors should be considered:
From a legislative viewpoint the definition is considered to include the circumstances by risk of a fall to mean a circumstance which exposes a worker while at work, or other person while at or in the vicinity of a workplace, to a risk of a fall that is reasonably likely to cause injury to the worker or other person.
This includes circumstances in which the worker or other person is:
This also extends to include persons conducting a business or undertaking, including those persons who design, construct, import, supply or install plant or structures, on how to manage health and safety risks arising from falls.
Designers, manufacturers, suppliers, importers and installers of plant or structures that could be used for work must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that the plant or structure is without risks to health and safety. Designers of plant or structures have an important role in eliminating or minimising the risks of falls in the design stage.
Officers, such as company directors, have a duty to exercise due diligence to ensure that the business or undertaking complies with the WHS Act and Regulations. This includes taking reasonable steps to ensure that the business or undertaking has and uses appropriate resources and processes to eliminate or minimise risks of falls from one level to another that are likely to cause injury.
Workers have a duty to take reasonable care for their own health and safety and that they do not adversely affect the health and safety of other persons. Workers must comply with any reasonable instruction given by the person conducting the business or undertaking (Managing the Risk of Falls at Workplaces – Code of Practice, March 2015).
It also includes information on a range of control measures to eliminate or minimise the risks.
In order to manage risk under the WHS regulations, a duty holder must:
The primary purpose of a Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS) is to assist supervisors, workers and any other persons at the workplace to understand the requirements that have been established to carry out the high risk construction work in a safe and healthy manner. It sets out the work activities in logical sequences, identifies hazards and describes control measures.
Both simple and complex activities can be broken down into a series of basic steps that will allow for full analysis of each part of the activity for hazards and potential incidents. The description of the process should not be so broad that it leaves out activities with the potential to cause incidents and prevents proper identification of the hazards nor is it necessary to go into fine detail of the tasks.
The aim of a SWMS is to:
The SWMS must be able to be easily read by those who need to know what has been planned to manage the risks and implement the control measures and ensure the work is being carried out in accordance with the SWMS.
The SWMS should also be aligned to the SWMS Site Register which is then translated at a Project or Site Level to be incorporated in the Site/Divisional Risk Register, aligned to the management of these potential risks governed in the overall WHS Management Plan.
The SWMS must be developed by the people doing the work in order to ensure a correct method has been agreed to by all key stakeholders, as planned. Following this a demonstrated path of communications must also be adhered to verbal/written to ensure everything is understood by all, and therefore signed off by all workers involved in the scope of the work. This form of collaboration must involve cooperation, coordination and consultation at all stages of the work being implemented. The consulting workers involves sharing of information, giving workers a reasonable opportunity to express views and taking those views into account before making decisions on health and safety matters.
You must consult your workers and their health and safety representatives at every step of the risk management process. Furthermore, review available information, including hazard and occurrence reports, records, investigations and lessons learned from earlier records of previous injuries and ‘near miss’ incidents related to falls. The current information and advice about fall hazards and risks relevant to particular industries and work activities is also available from regulators, industry associations, unions, technical specialists and safety professionals/ consultants.
Finally, if necessary revise risk control measures so as to maintain, so far as is reasonably practicable, a work environment that is without risks to health and safety. The review of the process will take into consideration regularly review by all key stakeholders to make sure it remains effective. A SWMS must be reviewed (and revised if necessary) if relevant control measures are revised. By drawing on their experience, knowledge and ideas, you are more likely to identify fall hazards and develop effective control measures.
Mark Da Silva
Mark Da Silva is Director of Work, Health and Safety Programmes at WorkSafe Victoria. As the Director of Programmes his remit includes leading and facilitating the delivery of the strategic health and safety improvement programmes; aimed at reducing injury, illness and fatalities in Victoria workplaces.
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