A line to catch you when you fall
Falls from heights are one of the main causes of death for mine and construction workers. MARISKA MORRIS looks at personal protective equipment (PPE) to prevent these falls
There were 2 662 recorded injuries and 73 fatalities in the mining industry in 2016. Falls accounted for 21 percent of these fatalities and included falls from heights and slip and falls. While this number is lower than previous years, it is still exceptionally high.
According to KH Plant, a specialist company that rebuilds motor graders, 20 construction workers die per 100 000 people in South Africa each year. Falls from heights cause 14 percent of these fatalities. It is, therefore, extremely important for companies to protect employees by investing in PPE that is specifically designed for working at heights.
“Falls are one of the most common forms of death in the workplace. Fall protection and fall prevention can eliminate or mitigate the risks of a fall. Most companies are reactive and only invest in fall protection after an accident,” says Duane Basson, technical product specialist at HSE Solutions.
HSE Solutions provides a wide range of PPE for various industries including fall-protection equipment. Basson notes: “Many companies underrate the importance of fully certified solutions and often try retrofitting, which, in the end, is not certified or legal and ultimately fails, or may cause further complications or injury.”
Basson adds that most companies neglect basic protection or temporary safety solutions when undertaking quick jobs. He points out that a company needs to provide an employee with an anchor device, body harness and connecting device. The variation and type will depend on the job.
“Without any of these, a company does not have a complete fall-arrest system,” Basson says. HSE Solutions has the Temporary Horizontal Lifeline, which is used for temporary work. The 20-m line can hold two people and be adjusted as required. It needs to have adequate anchor points, but offers workers freedom of movement as they don’t need to constantly adjust or reconnect the various anchor points.
“It is best to get an assessment done, use equipment that is best suited for the application and is the safest option in terms of anchors, harnesses and connecting devices. Do not follow a one-size-fits-all or one-product-does-all approach. Fall protection needs to be specifically suited to the application and task,” Basson notes.
He advises companies to ensure their equipment is certified and purchased from an accredited service provider. In the case of a fall, local emergency medical services might not be available to perform a rescue. For this reason, HSE Solutions offers the QuickPick Rescue Kits, which will allow companies to rescue workers shortly after a fall. The rescue kit must be suited to the environment.
“Follow best practices. Ensure that all workers are competently trained in working at height, are medically fit and trained in the correct use of the actual protective equipment being used. It is important to remember to inspect equipment before each use. Mandatory inspections, adequate maintenance and certification of equipment are also essential,” Basson concludes.