Falls from heights too common

According to Bailey — a Hills Industries company — too many Australians die or suffer injuries each year because of falls from heights at work.

“From our work with companies Australia-wide, we find that warehouse and transport companies generally face some complex situations when it comes to protecting workers from falling from heights,” says Hills Industries’ Marketing Manager for Home and Hardware Products, John Chinn.

“This is significant when you consider that falls from heights are the second greatest cause of workplace deaths in Australia.

“Between July 2003 and June 2004, 22 Australians died after falling from a height at work.”

“Another study has shown that over a 10-year period, $2 billion was spent in Victoria alone on workplace injury claims that resulted from falls from heights.

“The human and economic cost of falls from heights is significant.

“As a manufacturer of safe access products, we are saddened to hear these figures when there are options available to employers to help reduce or prevent workplace falls.”

Chinn says falls from heights could be reduced or prevented by following three simple steps.

“The first step is to identify workplace hazards and eliminate them where possible,” he says.

“This involves an audit of any areas where employees are required to climb to a height and considering whether those heights can be avoided.”

“The law states that if there is a hazard in the workplace it must be removed. If removal is not possible, by law the employer is required to take some form of action to protect their workers.”

“The second step involves defining what type of access tool will make the workplace safer, where height access is necessary.”

“There are a number of different access products available, so it comes down to selecting the right one for the job.”

Chinn says safe access products for logistics companies included:

Ladders — Ideal for light, temporary access duties that have short duration and preferably without frequent use.

Platform stepladders and stock picking ladders — Designed for frequent light duties. A stock picking ladder is similar to a stepladder, but with a larger platform and handrail. Some also feature a safety gate to further help prevent falls. Platform stepladders and stock picking ladders are commonly used in warehouses, storerooms and retail outlets to access products stocked high on shelves. These types of ladders are also frequently used on construction sites.

Fixed and mobile scaffolding — A correctly set up scaffold system is WorkCover’s preferred work method when it is necessary to work at heights, as it provides a fully-fenced, stable work platform that can allow access to multiple levels if required. Available in mobile or fixed configurations. Commonly used during truck maintenance.

Custom-built work platforms — For use where access to a truck is required. The custom-built work platform is pushed alongside the vehicle, making it safer for the worker to load or unload.

“If an employer is unsure which safe access tool is most appropriate for their workplace, they should ask whether their supplier can undertake a site visit to advise and assist,” Chinn says.

Chinn says the third step involved providing adequate training for employees.

“Training will enable employees to determine which of the safe access tools available to them is most appropriate for the job, and will help to ensure they are able to use these products safely,” he says.

“Training courses are available to help workers better understand the risks associated with working at heights and how those risks can be avoided.”

According to Chinn, following these three steps might help employers reduce or prevent falls in their workplace.

“No employer wants to have of falling from a height at work,” he says.

“Removing hazards, choosing appropriate access tools and providing adequate training can help to prevent this from occurring.”

For further information call 1300 300 564 or visit

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