Unnecessary risks posed to staff and the general public through negligence or complacency in your approach to fall prevention can result in serious legal and financial consequences. Equipment, material, tools and debris that can fall sideways or upwards are all considered falling objects.
Falling objects are potentially fatal hazards if they strike people in the workplace or adjoining areas when adequate precautions are not taken. Adjoining areas include footpaths, roads and yards or dwellings adjacent to the workplace.
Are you conscientious or complacent? Here is a checklist of key safety measures that minimise the incidence of hazards from falling objects. How many have you implemented at your workplace?
CHECKLIST: Securing a load
To prevent objects falling freely from one level to another when they are being stored, a secure physical barrier should be provided.
Are these examples routine procedure at your workplace?
- Stacking items so they cannot slide, fall or collapse when stored above ground level
- Using netting or restraining bars to keep items in place when stored above ground level
- Following the safe load limit of the storage system when storing items
- Ensuring shelving systems, barriers and other fittings are properly secured and well maintained
- Inspecting pallets each time before use to make sure they are in a safe condition
- Loading pallets correctly to ensure stability – banding, shrink or stretch wrap can help with this
CHECKLIST: Moving a load
When moving a load, a safe means of raising and lowering equipment, materials and debris should be provided.
Do you implement the following control measures as a general rule?
- Handling equipment (eg fork-lift truck) is properly inspected, maintained and operated by competent and/or qualified persons
- Adhering to safe working load limits and taking into account all relevant factors such as stability of ground conditions, use of outriggers or stabilisers, slewing rate and wind conditions
- Making sure the load is balanced and secure when the load is lifted
- Enclosing areas that loads are being lifted over
- Establishing ‘isolation’ or ‘no-go’ zones with barriers and trained workers to restrict access
CHECKLIST: Working at a height
Elevated work areas are a common hazard, requiring a rigorous set of safety precautions and work habits.
Does your workplace take the following precautions seriously?
- Keeping large equipment at ground level
- Good housekeeping, eg tidy work area and ensuring materials, debris, tools and equipment not being used are out of the way
- Providing a physical barrier at the edge of the elevated areas like scaffolds or platforms using toe boards or infill panels as part of a guardrail system
- Tethering or otherwise securing tools and materials to prevent them falling on people below
- Keeping tools or other materials away from edges and off of railings or sills
- Using chutes when placing debris into a skip below a work area
Protect your staff, your business and the general public. Falling objects will always pose a hazard, but with common sense and a rigorous approach to workplace safety many such incidents can be easily avoided.