RACA Journal June 2016 - Page 61

Support GRANT LAIDLAW Grant Laidlaw is currently the owner of the Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Academy (ACRA) in Edenvale. He holds a Bachelor of Business Administration and an associate degree in educational administration. He has a National Technical Diploma and completed an apprenticeship with Transnet. He has dual-trades status: refrigeration and electrical. He has been involved with SAIRAC for 17 years and has been a Johannesburg committee member for the past eight (chairman in 2011 and 2012. Currently he is the treasurer (Johannesburg council) as well as president (national council). Working at heights – it’s a safety thing By Grant Laidlaw We take a look at the safety requirements when working with heights. Zane asks: Hi, Grant. There is an increased tendency for clients to request documentation around working at heights. Also you see people working on scaffolding and wearing a harness but the harness is not attached to anything? What is a fall arrest system? I think that this whole issue is cause for concern. Thanks. H i Zane. Yes, I also see this happening almost on a daily basis. Falls from working with ladders and scaffolding are the single biggest cause of workplace deaths. They can stop production for days while investigations take place. This means lost working time and profits for your company. But there’s a way you can help prevent this from happening to your company. Many of these injuries happen because you haven’t been given the correct training and aren’t aware of the safety procedures you should be following. In this training module, you’ll learn how to comply with your duties under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA). You’ll be trained on the safety rules to follow when you work with ladders and scaffolding. Let’s first go through the legal obligations of the employer. What are the employer’s duties when you work at heights? If you work at heights of 1.5m or higher, your employer must make sure the equipment you use is safe for you and the type of work you do. According to General Safety Regulation 6 of OSHA, your employer must: • Train you in the safety precautions you must take. • Do a risk assessment for the work that involves using ladders and scaffolding. www.hvacronline.co.za • • • • • • #Solutions Give you the personal protective equipment (PPE) you need for working with ladders and scaffolding, like hard hats, safety boots, and safety gloves. Take precautionary measures to reduce the risk of falling or slipping, e.g. make sure you wear the correct shoes. Keep ladders and scaffolding equipment in good, working condition with monthly inspections. Make sure these monthly inspections are done by people who’ve been properly trained to inspect this type of equipment (General Safety Regulation 13A). Train you to inspect the ladders and scaffolding (or other height equipment like harnesses and ropes) before and after you use it (Construction Regulation 8, 10, 15 and 17). Dispose of any height equipment older than five years, e.g. with a waste disposal company in your area. Many of these injuries happen because you haven’t been given the correct training and aren’t aware of the safety procedures you should be following. The employer could face penalties for not complying with their duties if they don’t take steps to keep you safe when you work with ladders and scaffolding. They could be fined R50 000 or spend a year in jail or even both (Section 8 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA)). If they allow anyone to work on unsafe ladders or scaffolding, they could be fined or imprisoned for six months. Continued on page 61 RACA Journal I June 2016 59