The view from the top: new Working at heights legislation in Tasmania

New laws you need to know about

There are two new Codes of Practice related to working at heights. These are the ‘Managing the risk of falls at workplaces Code of Practice’  and ‘Preventing falls in housing construction Code or Practise’.

Who do the new codes apply to?

The Codes give practical information and guidance to persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU). In this instance, the term PCBU includes those who design, construct, import, supply or install plant or structures.

What do they cover?

The codes outline how to control health and safety risks arising from falls and contain detailed information on a range of control measures to eliminate or minimise the risks.

Where can I get a copy of the codes?

Both codes can be downloaded for free from the Safe Work Website or contact us and we will send you a copy.

How do I apply the codes?

Here’s a breakdown on how the codes apply to those involved in your business.

The PCBU: documents, systems and supervision

As a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) you are required to take all reasonable, practicable measures to ensure the health and safety of employees and contractors in your workplace. This includes providing a Safe Work Method Statement or Job Safety Analysis for employees and requesting a Safe Work Method Statement or Job Safety Analysis from any contractors entering the workplace. This documentation should  take into account all the hazards and control measures required to do the job safely.

The PCBU also needs to ensure all employees and contractors have safe systems of work as well as being satisfied that contractors have a safe system of work. If it is determined that no safe system of work exists, it is the responsibility of the PCBU to provide one. The PCBU will also need to supervise the employees and contractors and conduct a risk assessment on the job to be performed.

The Worker: reasonable care and responsibility

New legislation requires that the worker ‘take reasonable care for his or her own health and safety’ as well as ‘take reasonable care that his or her acts or omissions do not adversely affect the health and safety of other persons ...’

Workers should remember that they are also responsible for applying the safe work methods outlined and for making the decision to stop work when things are not as they should be.

Workers should not underestimate the level of risk they may be exposed to in the event of a fall-related accident, nor should they underestimate the other possible ramifications from failing to follow safety processes and procedures. Workers face the possibility of both fines and jail in the event of accident or incident under the new legislation.

The Training: going above and beyond

The control measures that are listed in the code of practice and used as a part of the risk assessment or Work Method Statement must be accompanied by training to ensure that workers are competent in the control measures required to manage the risk of falls, and are able to deal with any emergencies arising as a result of a fall.

There is no license for working at heights. Industry generally recognises one and two day courses run by Registered Training Organisations issuing nationally recognised statements of attainment as the minimum benchmark.

It is important to understand that working at heights has many different applications and training must be given for the tasks to be undertaken.  While generic nationally recognised training gives an insight into how to use and apply safe work techniques when at height – or positions where a person could fall from one level to another –  they do not necessarily cover all the specific risks and methods that need to be adopted and implemented to work at height safely.

In the case of working at heights, we strongly recommend you take a good look at working at heights as it applies to your particular business when applying the code, and consider going over and above the requirements.

Engaging a consultant to assist all those in your business meet the requirements of the code, and to help reduce any risks specific to your business is highly recommended.

Information

Sadly, working at heights still contributes to disproportionately large number of serious and debilitating injuries and deaths every year in Australia. Tasmania has not been exempt from these tragedies. Solutions for working at heights can be easily misinterpreted and miscommunicated with disastrous results.

If you are a PCBU or a worker and the people you are responsible for or work with are exposed to, or work at heights, we cannot stress enough the importance of ensuring all those in your business are trained, reviewing your control measures and monitoring workers’ use of these control measures.

With the help of your aware365 consultant, you can conduct the training yourself.

One thing is for certain, when your business involves working at heights, you can’t afford to take shortcuts.

Rob.