Although we are well aware that falls from heights are the leading cause of injury on work sites particularly in the construction environment, sometimes it just seems easier and quicker to ignore safety controls than address this hazard and implement the necessary controls such as fall protection and fall arrest systems. This attitude toward work from heights has resulted in a fatality on a Sydney North Construction site.
A construction worker recently fell 10 metres to his death after he suffered a heart attack whilst climbing down a crane at the site. Had the man been utilising the appropriate fall arrest system, he may have managed to survive the fall and receive the necessary treatment for cardiac arrest.
Apparently the heart attack caused the man to lose his grip and fall onto the crane platform while working at a multi-block construction site at the corner of the PACIFIC Highway and Berry Street.
According to a report on Smh.com.au , search and rescue teams as well as 3 ambulances arrived at the scene before 2:30pm and spent at least half an hour attempting to resuscitate the man. The following excerpt from the report explains:
Traffic was being diverted off the highway between Berry Street and Miller Street.
The man suffered a heart attack while climbing down this crane ladder and fell.
A crime scene has been established for investigations by local police and WorkCover. A spokesman for the NSW Police said the death would mostly be investigated by WorkCover.
To prevent accidental falls at worksites, guardrails and toe boards or other effective barriers should be used. However, there will be areas where guardrails or other barriers are not feasible. In these cases, workers must use approved personal fall protection systems or positioning devices to prevent accidents like the one above which can prove fatal.
Even if you don’t slip or trip while working from a height other accidents or medical emergencies such as strokes, heart attacks, fainting etc. can result in a fall and in this case, an effective fall arrest system can prove invaluable.
Personal fall arrest systems stop an employee during a fall from hitting a lower level or structure. The systems consist of an anchorage, connectors, and a full body harness. It may include a lanyard, a lifeline, a deceleration device, or suitable combinations of these.
There are also other fall systems available such as safety nets and fall restraint systems. The choice of system adopted will differ from case to case. Whichever option is chosen, employers need to ensure that employees are trained on correct use – an incorrectly utilised system can prove ineffective and in some instances may actually endanger a worker’s life.