Working at Heights Guideline
To eliminate or minimise the risk of fatalities, injuries and incidents arising from working at
This Guideline applies wherever there is the potential for any person to fall 2m or more, or
to gain access to an open edge from where there is the potential to fall 2m or
more, including working from various forms of portable and moveable elevated work
platforms, cages, ladders, scaffolding and where objects could fall and cause injuries.
Risk assessments may identify high potential fall hazards when working at heights of less than 2m in which case this guideline shall be applied.
REASON FOR INCLUSION
Falls from heights have contributed to a significant proportion of mines fatal and incidents. The causes and contributing factors to these
incidents have been:
- Lack of job planning and job assessment.
- Failing to wear a harness.
- Wearing the wrong sort of harness.
- Wearing the harness incorrectly.
- Unstable set up of elevated work platforms.
- Unguarded or unbarricaded hole, edges, voids, excavations or walkways.
The requirements of this Guideline are as follows:
Plant and equipment requirements
- All working at heights equipment shall comply and be used in accordance with
relevant approved design standards and manufacturers specifications.
- Single person anchor points shall be capable of withstanding 15kN. Where it is not practical to install dedicated anchor points (i.e. ad hoc work), anchor points capable of withstanding 15kN shall be identified through a risk assessment process and shall be approved by a competent person prior to the start of work.
- Where personnel are required to work within 2m of an unbarricaded opening where they could fall, they shall use personal fall restraint equipment, such as a fixed lanyard and harness as a minimum, which will prevent them from falling over the edge.
- Where there is the potential to fall more than 2m, personnel shall wear appropriate
personal fall arrest equipment. In such circumstances, a full body harnesses, including shock-absorbing lanyards or inertia reel, is mandatory. The use of body belts for fall arrest is prohibited, except when used for specialised tasks by specially trained linesmen wearing pole-climbing belts.
- All forms of portable and movable elevated work platforms and suspended work
cages shall conform to relevant approved design standards. People in the work
platform basket shall wear a correctly fitted harness attached by a lanyard to a
suitable anchor point located on the lifting equipment.
- Where there is the potential to fall more than 2m in unprotected areas, access shall
be restricted and controlled through risk assessment e.g. stockpile feeder chutes,
highwalls, water hazards and wharves.
- Where operators need to gain access to places at height on large plant and mobile
machinery regularly (e.g. to clean windscreens or filters), then access ways should be
provided. These access ways should have handrails. Where handrails cannot be
installed, then fall restraint or fall arrest equipment should be considered dependant
on the outcome of a risk assessment of each situation.
- Where operators are working or passing near moving machinery (conveyors), the harness must have quick release buckles to allow the operator to escape if the harness is caught.
- The risk of fall shall be eliminated where reasonably practicable utilising the
Hierarchy of Controls.
- Standard work procedures shall be in place for the correct wearing and use of
personal fall arrest and fall restraint equipment.
- There shall be a work permit system in place to control all working at heights.
- A documented risk assessment shall be conducted before the start of work and at
any time the scope of work changes or the risk of a fall increases. The risk
assessments shall include:
- consideration for the potential of objects and personnel to fall
- the selection of appropriate control measures using the hierarchy of controls
- the possibility for weather and other environmental conditions to influence
working conditions (e.g. wind, rain, snow, dust, gases, poor lighting and temperature) the selection of appropriate equipment
- the selection of anchor and tie off points which should be above the operator.
- the condition of supporting structures such as roofs
- the selection of appropriate barricading and/or demarcation
- the selection of appropriate hooks on the lanyards
- fall clearances i.e. length of lanyard + tear-out distance + height of user +
All equipment shall be fit-for-purpose and undergo pre-use and after use checks and a minimum of six-monthly (biannual) documented inspections by a competent authorised person. An equipment register shall be in place to indicate compliance with this inspection. Testing shall be done in accordance with recognised standards.
- Where the work method requires persons to detach and re-attach at height, a dual lanyard system shall be utilised to ensure that at least one connection point is maintained at all times. Both hooks must be attached to the anchor point to keep the lanyards out of the way. The operator must avoid wrapping the second lanyard around any part of his body as this may become caught if falling and cause damage to the operator.
- Where the use of personal fall arrest equipment is required, a person shall not work
alone and there shall be other personnel in the vicinity that can raise the alarm immediately should a person fall.
- The harness must be correctly adjusted to fit the wearer. The harness must not be too loose or too tight.
- The harness must be adjusted so that the lanyard connects between the shoulders to avoid the wearer being thrown forward and head slamming into the structure.
- Persons working at height shall ensure that their safety helmets are secured by using
a helmet chinstrap to retain the helmet on the head.
- A system should be in place to prevent tools, materials and other objects from falling
- Never hook the hooks into each other over a support. They must be connected to a sling.
- Barricading and warning signage should be placed on all lower levels where
personnel or objects may fall.
- Personnel operating elevated work platforms shall be trained and certified
for the specific equipment they are using.
- The site emergency response plan/s should include plans for the rapid retrieval of
personnel in the event of a fall from height. Rescue personnel and equipment must be immediately available as response time is critical if a person is to avoid suspension trauma.
- Sites shall conduct a process to ensure selected personnel are fit to work from
heights. Specific consideration shall be given to personnel who suffer medical
conditions, such as vertigo and epilepsy, as well as considering the weight of the
person using the harness. (Note: many harness systems have a maximum weight limit of 136kg/300lbs.)
- A competency-based training programme for employees and supervisors shall be in
place. This programme shall include provisions for maintaining competence. All
persons engaged in work covered by this Guideline shall be adequately trained and
assessed for competency.
- Fall restraint means an approved device and any necessary components that
function together to restrain a person in such a manner as to prevent that person
from falling to a lower level.
- Fall arrest system means the use of multiple, approved safety equipment
components such as body harnesses, lanyards, deceleration devices, droplines,
horizontal and/or vertical lifelines and anchorages, interconnected and rigged to
arrest a free fall.
- Fall prevention means the design and use of a fall prevention system which
prevents exposure to an elevated fall hazard. This may require more than one fall
prevention system or a combination of prevention or protection measures.