Melbourne is the capital of Victoria, Australia. Victoria rules and regulations apply to Melbourne.
Falls from heights are a chief workplace hazard in Victoria. Injuries and deaths take place across a range of industries, mostly in construction, which account for 27 percent of such claims.
The Victorian WorkCover Authority & WorkSafe Victoria
The Victorian WorkCover Authority (VWA) oversees and regulates workplace safety in Victoria. State law obligates the VWA to help prevent workplace injuries and enforce occupational health and safety laws.
WorkSafe Victoria is the VWA’s occupational health and safety division. It carries out VWA’s compliance policies.
Consolidated Occupational Health and Safety Regulations
In June 2017, updated Occupational Health and Safety Regulations became effective. Chapter 3, Physical Hazards, Part 3.3 Prevention of Falls, mainly concerned working from heights, specifically heights higher than two metres. The new regulations revised 2007 regulations. Everything essentially remained the same. While the updated version still focused on heights higher than two metres, the updated version added that the employer also had a general duty of care to also control falls from heights less than two metres. See Correct Safety for Height Safety Equipment.
The employer must first pinpoint any job assignments that could involve a fall risk. That included work that could involve construction or repair on a incline or near an edge.
Control of Risk
The employer must then attempt to control the risk by following a particular hierarchy of steps. For example, can the job be performed on ground? If that was not reasonably practical, they must go on to the next step. If the next step was not reasonably practical, they must go on to the next step, and so on. If they exhausted all the steps and the risk remained, the employer must make sure the worker utilized Passive Fall Prevention.
Passive Fall Prevention
A Passive Fall Prevention Device is equipment that doesn’t need adjustment after it was first installed. An example of such includes temporary work platforms, guard railings, and roof safety meshes.
If a risk still existed, the employer must provide a Work Positioning System.
Work Positioning System
Work Positioning Systems includes:
- travel restraints
- industrial rope accesses
- anything other than a temporary work platform that allows a worker to be safely supported for the length of the task
If a risk still existed, the employer must install a Fall Arrest System.
Fall Arrest System
A Fall Arrest System is an apparatus that halts an individual’s fall. Examples include catch platforms, industrial safety nets, and safety harnesses.
If a risk still existed, the employer can only lessen it by making sure the worker used a Portable or Fixed Ladder as per the regulations.
Portable and Fixed Ladders
Australia has a set of standards pertaining to Portable Ladders (AS/NZS 1892 Portable Ladders), with distinct sections pertaining to:
- timber ladders
- metal ladders
- reinforced plastic ladders
Portable Ladders are minimally stable and, like the Control of Risk procedure, follow a certain control hierarchy for fall prevention.
Australia also has a set of standards for Fixed Ladders (AS1657 Fixed Platforms, walkways, stairways and ladders – Design, construction and installation; and also the Australian Building Code).
Workers cannot stand higher than 900 mm on ladders and they must be properly fixed. Ladders with metal cannot be used close to power lines. The regulations contain further rules and restrictions.