WHY USE FALL PROTECTION?
Falls from heights are the single biggest cause of death or serious injury in the workplace. For businesses whose staff and maintenance teams need to work at height quickly and effectively, fall protection is increasingly important.
Health and Safety legislation and the controlling organisations are enforcing stricter rules and best practice for safe access and working at heights. Doing nothing is not an option.
THE HEALTH & SAFETY AT WORK ACT 2015 (NZ)
THREE MAIN PARTIES
Officers; Under the new law, “Officers” will include company directors and anybody else who has significant influence on the business. Officers have an obligation to do their due diligence and ensure the PCBU complies with their obligations in establishing a safe work environment. The major difference from the existing law is that there is more onus on the company directors and influencers to get involved, and ensure that businesses are following proper health and safety procedures.
Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBU) Despite its name, a PCBU will usually be a business entity, such as a company, rather than an individual person. A person might be a PCBU if they are a sole trader or a self-employed person. PCBUs have a responsibility to its workers and those that it influences in the workplace. PCBUs have a duty to engage with workers and exercise effective worker participation practices regarding health and safety.
Workers; A worker is anybody carrying out work in any capacity for a PCBU. This includes employees, contractors, subcontractors, employees of contractors or subcontractors, and employees of a labour hire company who has been assigned to work for a PCBU. The term worker is used very broadly to ensure that it includes all the various relationships that can exist in the workplace. While the PCBU must do what they can to ensure worker safety, at the end of the day, each individuals safety still comes down to them.
Employee Participation; Under the new legislation there is a large focus on employee participation, and it is the PCBUs duty to make sure workers are consulted about health and safety matters, such as the adequacy of current facilities. All companies operating in a high risk industry or have more than 20 staff members are required to have a health and safety representative if any worker asks for one. They also have to consider establishing a health and safety committee if five or more workers or a health and safety representative requests one. Small businesses in low risk industries don’t have an obligation to have a health and safety representative although they do still have to have a form of worker participation and engagement. They may voluntarily choose a health and safety representative as a way of fulfilling their worker participation and engagement obligations.
WHO IS RESPONSIBLE?
The Health & Safety At Work Act 2015 states that businesses have a duty to provide effective, on-going ways for you to make suggestions, raise ideas, or take other steps to improve health and safety at work.
A PCBU (Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking) must ensure that a duty reasonably able to be done in relation to ensuring health and safety, taking into account and weighing up all relevant matters.
• A PCBU must ensure the health and safety of workers and that other people are not put at risk by its work. (eg employees or contractors, including their subcontractors or workers)
• A PCBU who is a self-employed person must also ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, his or her own health and safety while at work.
What does Reasonably Practicable mean?
The new law replaces the old law’s ‘All Practicable Steps’ with a new ‘Reasonably Practicable’ standard. Reasonably practicable simply means doing what is reasonably able to be done to ensure the health and safety of workers and others.
When determining what is reasonably practicable, you should take into account:
- How likely it is that the hazard or risk is actually going to occur.
- How much harm will come as a result of the hazard or risk.
- What the people involved know about the hazard or risk.
- The availability and suitability of solutions to the hazard or risk.
What is Due Diligence?
Due diligence under the new law applies to officers (typically directors, CEOs) to ensure the business is doing the right thing about health and safety. Is where a company and or individual has done everything within reason to reduce and or eliminate the hazard or risk associated with a job. It is not only about meeting legislation, companies and or individuals are discovering that they must go beyond the current legislated minimum to properly protect the worker and subsequently protect themselves.
Due diligence includes taking reasonable steps to:
- Keep up-to-date about work health and safety matters.
- Understand the nature of the operations of the business.
- Making sure that the PCBU has, and uses, the appropriate tools to eliminate or minimise risks.
- Making sure that the PCBU processes and addresses concerns from workers surrounding health and safety.
What if there is more than one PCBU involved in a worksite?
When there are multiple PCBUs, each PCBU must do what they can to keep workers safe relative to the amount of influence they have in the workplace. When performing their job, a PCBU also needs to consult and collaborate with other PCBUs whose workers are affected by their work.
Former H&S requirements which may still apply;
To meet the requirements of the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 and Regulations 1995
An employer shall take all practicable steps to ensure where any employee may fall more than three metres:
- Means are provided to prevent the employee from falling.
- Any means so provided are suitable for the purpose for which they are to be used.
- Where there is a possibility of serious harm from a fall of less than 3 metres, fall protection is still needed.
- Consideration should also be given to situations where a person may slide down an inclined surface before reaching a point at which the fall can occur.
LEGISLATION & COMPLIANCE
The requirement for fall protection is defined by law, and to guidelines set out by safety standards authorities. The Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment publishes the 'Best practice guidelines for working at height in New Zealand'. This document provides practical guidence to employers, contractors, employees and all other engaged in work associated with working at height and how they can meet their obligations under the Health & Safety in Employment Act 1992 and its successor, the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015.
The Health and Safety Reform Bill has been passed by Parliament, coming into effect on 4th April 2016. You can view the new Act here.
What happens next?
The new law is called the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015. A series of regulations have been developed to support the new Act. These include:
- General risk and workplace management
- Major Hazard Facilities
- Engagement, worker participation and representation (available shortly for public consultation)
More information is on the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment webpage.
FALL PROTECTION STANDARDS AND BEST PRACTICE GUIDELINES
- These set the standard for the manufacture of equipment and application of safety systems.
- Refer to 'Best practice guidelines for working at height in New Zealand'
- Fall protection systems should conform to the relevant Australian/New Zealand Standards.
- Standards bodies are voluntary compliance boards.
- Safety standards are the minimum acceptable requirement
AUSTRALIAN / NEW ZEALAND STANDARDS
AS/NZS RELATING TO HEIGHT SAFETY;
- AS/NZS 1891.1:2007 Safety belts and harnesses
- AS/NZS 1891.2:2001 Industrial fall-arrest systems and devices - Horizontal lifeline and rail systems
- AS/NZS 1891.3:1997 Industrial fall-arrest systems and devices
- AS/NZS 1891.4:2009 Industrial fall-arrest systems and devices - Selection, use and maintenance
- AS/NZS 1801:1997 Occupational protective helmets
- AS/NZS 1892.1:1996 Portable ladders: Metal
- AS/NZS 1892.2:1996 Portable ladders: Timber
- AS/NZS 1892.3:1996 Portable ladders: Reinforced plastic
- AS/NZS 2865:2001 Safe Working in a Confined Space
- AS/NZS 4387:1996 Safety mesh
- AS/NZS 4994.1 2009 Temporary Edge Protection
- AS/NZS 4488:1997 Industrial rope access systems
- AS/NZS 4576:1995 Guidelines for scaffolding Part 1: Specifications, Part 2: Selection, use and maintenance
- AZ/NZS 5532:2014 Manufacturing requirements for single-point anchor device used for harness-based work at height
EUROPEAN STANDARDS (EN)
- EN 341 Rescue descender devices
- EN 353/2 Guided type fall arrester
- EN 354 Lanyards
- EN 358 Work positioning systems
- EN 360 Retractable type fall arrester
- EN 361 Full body harnesses
- EN 362 Work connectors
- EN 397 Industrial safety helmet
- EN 566 Slings
- EN 567 Rope clamps
- EN 795/B Portable anchor devices
- EN 813 Half harnesses
- EN 1496 Rescue lifting devices
- EN 1498 Rescue loops
- EN 1891 Low stretch Kernmantel ropes
- EN 12278 Pulleys
- EN 12492 Helmets for mountaineers
- EN 12841 Rope adjustment systems
To meet the requirements of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015
- Principals and their agents such as architects and engineers have a responsibility to ensure that the project is designed to be erected, used and maintained without putting persons at risk of serious harm.
- Those who own, lease or use buildings or plant have a responsibility for the safety of those involved in its maintenance and repair.
- Areas that require regular service and maintenance should be provided with permanent safe access and work platforms. In less frequented areas, permanent anchorages for scaffolding or fall arrest systems may be appropriate.
- Persons with control of places of work should provide training or induction procedures that will make outside contractors aware of the hazards in the area where they are to work.
PBI Height safety offers a full inspection and certification service for all height safety equipment (PPE)
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