What risk factors are associated with working at height?
Mining operations in Western Australia frequently require workers to perform duties at height, or where there is a risk of falling from one level to another, or into openings. This may be on the surface or underground, with each situation offering its own unique set of circumstances.
For surface operations, especially during construction or at processing plants, mobile elevated work platforms (MEWPs) may be used within or adjacent to structures with restricted access. MEWPs can be damaged and people injured due to inappropriate basket placement in or adjacent to a structure with restricted access.
For underground operations, the environment is constantly changing, and those working at height need to be aware of this. Standard operating procedures for working at height while underground will be different from those for working at height at the surface.
Safe working at height underground can also be affected by limited visibility, challenging ground conditions, workspace constraints and barriers to effective ventilation. Apart from falls and dropped objects, an additional risk to those workers using work platforms underground is that they can be injured if caught between a rising platform and the backs (i.e. roof or upper part) or the sidewall of a drive.
The working at height in underground mines - guideline will assist sites in the development of safe systems of work for the prevention of underground incidents specifically, but may also be useful to surface operations.
Training and competency
Working-at-height training and competency assessment supports worker awareness of the risks and necessary controls associated with working at height.
The regular review of working-at-height hazard scenarios and associated procedures and standards – and reassessment of worker competency – further promotes the concept of safe working at height.
Competency assessment should be evidence-based, and recorded and verified before personnel are exposed to work at heights.
Please refer to related information below:
Resources Safety has developed a ‘Down to Earth’ hazard awareness video series that focuses on falling from height
The Commission for Occupational Safety and Health has produced the Prevention of falls at workplaces - code of practice.
To help manage the risk of falls in workplaces, refer to Managing the Risk of Falls at Workplaces - Model Code of Practice, published by Safe Work Australia.
The Department of Commerce has a frequently asked questions - working at height webpage for employers and employees.
Information about national competency standards and training courses is available from the Department of Industry’s Skills Training.