AROUND one in eight workers compensation claims in the construction industry are caused by falls from heights. Most are totally needless because they could be avoided with the right gear used the right way. Capital Safety will be showing height safety equipment at The Safety Show.
While choosing the right gear can be complicated, there are five components that should be considered: anchor point, body harness, connector, decelerator and effective rescue.
A - Anchor Point
Tether yourself to a secure anchor point. This can be a fixed point or a static line system but it must be capable of sustaining a force of 15kN for a single person application and 22kN for a two person application.
B - Body Harness
Use only a standards-certified full body harness that is within service, inspected prior to use and correctly fitted and adjusted. The use of body belts is not permitted in a fall arrest height safety applications. Not all full body harnesses are the same. Choose one specifically designed to suit the job so you are not only well protected, but comfortable and productive. If you are not sure which harness to use, visit Capital Safety's stand at The Safety Show to see the differences between the four new Sala SureFit harness types.
The Rigger's harness includes fall arrest rated frontal belay loops. The Confined Space harness has a waist belt and large side D rings for work positioning. The cross-over style Roof Worker's harness also has fall arrest rated frontal D ring. The All-Purpose harness combines a range of these features. Ask a professional for advice and a personal fitting.
Make sure your harness and hook work together to prevent rollout or unlatching when twisted. Sala has taken a step beyond the double-action snap hook with a new H250 that when used with the SureFit or ExoFit range is guaranteed never to roll out.
C - Connector
The connector is a means of joining the body harness to the anchor point. This can be a lanyard with a maximum working slack of 2m or a self-retracting lifeline (SRL). Short lanyards are better for reducing free-fall, but can restrict movement, so opt for an SRL. The Rebel that has a working length of 3.3m but weighs just 1.3kg.
D - Decelerator
Fit a decelerator between the anchor point and the full body harness. This device must limit the forces on the body to a maximum of 6kN in the event of a fall. Decelerators are built into many self-retracting lifelines and take the form of tear webbing absorbers in lanyards.
In vertical applications (ladders) where the lanyard length is restricted to a maximum length of 600mm, a decelerator device is not required, provided there is some form of shock absorption device in the system.
E - Effective Rescue
Steps A, B, C and D reduce the chance of a fall, however once a fall occurs, it is equally important to deal with the next potential hazard, suspension trauma, or “orthostatic intolerance”.
To avoid this potentially lethal condition, it is important to be rescued within 15 minutes of the fall. Have a rescue plan in place that allows escape in a much shorter time and practice rescue techniques regularly. To maximise the safe time spent before rescue, consider new suspension relief straps that Capital Safety is releasing at The Safety Show, which allow the suspended person to move and boost circulation.
For personal advice about fall protection, visit Capital Safety's stand at The Safety Show Sydney, which runs from 13-15 October at the Sydney Showground, Sydney Olympic Park.