Risk Management When Working At Height
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The Regulations apply to all work at height where there is a risk of a fall liable to cause personal injury. They place duties on employers, the self-employed, and any person who controls the work of others. These regulations have been made to prevent the Deaths and Injuries caused each year by falls at work. They also REPLACE all the earlier regulations about working at height and implement European Council Directive 2001/45/EC concerning safety and health for use of equipment for work at height (the Temporary Work at Height Directive). The objective of this paper is to identify relevant local laws related to working at height and examined the shortcoming from the laws. In Malaysia, the practice of safety including at construction sites is regulated by two main Acts. The Factories and Machinery (FMA) Act, 1967 is widely use by the Department of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) to make sure the safety, health and welfare at workplace. One of the regulations under the act, Building Operation of Work Engineering and Construction (BOWEC) is created specially to focus on the activities at construction industries. The are the legal requirements regulated by the government in related to working at height such as Regulation 12,Regulation 15, Regulation 39,Regulation 40,Regulation 41,and Regulation 42 using in this paper. To solve these problems, we need an improvement strategy that an employer must do everything reasonably possible to prevent anyone from falling, hazards situation, and carry out a risk assessment before working at height and take precautions where a person can fall a distance of more than 2m. If there is an increased risk of injury when falling a distance of less than 2m. The whole construction process should be planned to minimise the risk of falls. Planning work to minimise the need to work at height, and adding safety using guard rails, catch netting and barriers can reduce the risk. The results, construction professionals and the workers must be concerned with the construction process where the both professional and legal duties to take care, not only of their own health and safety at work, but the health and safety of others who might be put at risk by their acts and omissions.
Keywords: Regulations, Working At Height, Construction Industries, Risks
Over the years scenario of construction industry becomes more challenging. Accidents happen at construction site are always at everywhere especially in high rise construction. To date, people especially safety players in construction will find the best method in combating such accidents from happen.
Working at height is defined as working at a place from which a person could be injured by falling from it, regardless of whether it is above, at or below ground level. Working at height describes work undertaken "off the ground". Commonly, it involves the use of scaffolds, ladders, hoists, gantries or general roof work. Working at height can result in debris falling on workers or even workers falling from heights.
Construction industry has been identifying by DOSH as among the highest activity contributed to the accident at workplace. Among the most hazardous activities at the building construction site is working at the building construction site working at height. Statistics indicate that almost one in three accidents involving working at height is fatal. Table 1.1 shows the statistic of fatality at construction site reported to DOSH from 1999 to 2004.
Table 1.1: Fatality at Construction Sites in Malaysia
Source: Department of Occupational Safety and Health
Most accidents occur as a result of poor management control, which includes such failures as:
Not recognising that a problem exists before it results in an accident
Not designing and enforcing safe systems of work
Not providing adequate information, instruction or training
Not providing appropriate equipment or not using the right equipment for the job
The objective of this paper is to identify relevant local laws related to working at height and examined the shortcoming from the laws.
Identify the local laws related to working at height.
Identify the shortcoming
Work at Height Regulations state that all employers have a duty of care to ensure that work at height is properly planned, appropriately supervised and carried out in a safe manner
In Malaysia, the practice of safety including at construction sites is regulated by two main Acts. The Factories and Machinery (FMA) Act, 1967 is widely use by the Department of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) to make sure the safety, health and welfare at workplace. One of the regulations under the act, Building Operation of Work Engineering and Construction (BOWEC) is created specially to focus on the activities at construction industries. The act clearly emphasized on the safety and health at different elements of construction such as machineries, working and load platform, scaffolding, floor opening, and electrical safety. Indeed FMA only enforceable to factories and machinery in which it is considered as prescriptive, rigid and too dependant to government enforcement that make it ineffective in controlling the issues of occupational safety and health at workplace.
The Occupational Safety and Health Act 1994 (OSHA 1994) has been enacted in 1994 as a reinforcement to the FMA. The objectives of the act are to secure the safety health and welfare of worker, to protect person at workplace against of hazard, to promote the occupational environment adaptable to the person's physiological and psychological needs and to provide the means towards a legislative system based on regulations and industry codes of practice in combination with the provisions of the act. The philosophy of the act is the responsibilities to ensure safety and health at the workplace lies with those who create the risk and with those who work with the risk. In respect to the above philosophy, construction industries are expected to comply with the provision of the act such as general duty of employer and employee, the requirement of safety officer regulation, the requirements of safety and health committee and responsibilities of reporting of accident an dangerous occurrences.
The followings are the legal requirements regulated by the government in related to working at height.
Factories and Machinery (Safety, Health & Welfare) Regulation 1970
Regulation 12 - Working at a height
Where any person is required to work at a place from which he will be liable to fall a distance of more then 10 feet, means shall be provided to ensure his safety and such means shall where practicable include the use of safety belts or ropes.
Any person, who commits an offence against these regulations, shall on conviction be liable to a fine not exceeding one thousand ringgit.
Factories and Machinery (Building Operations and Works Of Engineering Construction) (Safety) Regulations, 1986
Part V - Cleaning, Repairing and Maintenance of Roofs, Gutters, Windows, Louvers and Ventilators
Regulation 39 - Duties of employers
Every employer shall provide and require his employee to use while engaged in the cleaning, repairing and maintenance of roof, gutters, windows, louvers and ventilators.
All means of access to roofs, gutters, windows, louvers, ventilators and other fixtures, parts or equipment which require periodical cleaning or maintenance shall be maintained in good and safe order and condition.
Regulation 40 - Work on steep roofs
Where work is being performed on roofs having a slope greater than one in four, there shall be provided protection against sliding, consisting of roofing brackets or crawling boards.
The provision of sub-regulation (1) shall not apply where every employee engaged in work upon such roofs is protected by a safety belt.
Regulation 41 - Construction and installation of roofing brackets
Roofing brackets shall be constructed to fit the pitch of the roof and when in use shall provide a level working platform.
Roofing bracket shall be secured in place by nailing pointed metal projection attached to the underside of the bracket and securely driven into the roof or by secure rope passes over the ridge pole and tied.
Regulation 42 - Crawling boards
Crawling board shall not be less than 250 millimetres wide and 25 millimetres thick and shall have cleats at least 38 millimetres wide, spaced at equal intervals not more than 310 millimetres apart across the full width of the board and firmly nailed. Such boards shall extend from the ridge pole to the eaves when used in connection with roof construction, repair or maintenance.
Any person, who commits an offence against these regulations, shall on conviction be liable to a fine not exceeding one thousand ringgit.
Occupational Safety and Health Act 1994
Section 15 - General duties of employers and self-employed person to their employees of Occupational Safety and Health Acct 1994 clearly stated the employer responsibilities as follow:-
It shall be the duty of every employer and every self-employed person to ensure, so far as is practicable, the safety, health and welfare at work of all his employees.
Without prejudice to the generality of subsection (1), the matters to which the duty extends include in particular :-
The provision and maintenance of plant and system of work that are, as far as is practicable, safe and without risks to health.
The making of arrangements for ensuring, so far as is practicable, safety and absence of risks to health in connection with the use or operation, handling, storage and transport of plant and substances;
The provision of such information, instruction, training and supervision as is necessary to ensure, so far as is practicable, the safety and health at work of his employees;
So far as is practicable, as regards any place of work under the control of the employer or self-employed person, the maintenance of it in a condition that is safe and without risks to health and the provision and maintenance of the means of access to and egress from it that are safe and without such risks.
The provision and maintenance of a working environment for his employees that is, so far as is practicable, safe, without risks to health, and adequate as regards facilities for heir welfare at work.
Failure to comply with the above requirements, employer shall be guilty of an offence and shall on conviction, be liable to a fine not exceeding fifty thousand ringgit or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or to both.
The awareness of safety at workplace in Malaysia has emerged since 1967 with the introduction of the FMA. The regulation of BOWEC under FMA came into force on 1986 with the aims to control the safety at construction sites. OSHA enacted in 1994 with the same purpose to strengthen the control of safety health and welfare at workplace. In 2001, DOSH began to implement occupational safety and health inspection at construction site (Building Construction Safety Audit) for every four month in order to ensure the OSH elements are in place, adequate and effective in protecting the safety and health of workers subsequently preventing incidents.
Unfortunately accidents and fatalities rates at construction sites still high. In Malaysia, National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam They said the country recorded 6.7 accidents per 1,000 workers in 2005 while the average in developed nations stood at only three to four accidents per 1,000 workers.
A construction site normally considered as a dangerous place. A large number of people die in them every year. Many site injuries result from people falling from structures like roofs and scaffolds, or being hit by falling objects. There is nearly always keen competition for new contracts and site personnel are often under pressure to work to tight time and cost constraints. It is hardly surprising that safety is often neglected.
An employer's duties
An employer must do everything reasonably possible to prevent anyone from falling. This includes:
avoiding all work at height wherever possible
Use suitable equipment to aid work at height is there is no other method of carrying out the work from a place which is not at height.
Do everything possible to minimise the height at which the person may fall from and minimise the consequences should someone fall.
This means that:
All work at height is properly planned and organised
All work at height takes into consideration weather conditions which may adversely affect the work in progress.
Employees who are involved are trained and competent
The environment where the work is carried out is safe
Equipment use to aid work at height is regularly inspected and is suitable for use
The risks from fragile surfaces are properly controlled
Risks from falling objects are properly controlled
Falls from heights are a regular cause of fatal and serious injuries. There are three main hazards associated with work at heights:
Falls from collapsing structures.
Carry out a risk assessment before working at height to find out what health and safety measures need to be adopted to avoid or reduce risk. Work should be done at a safe level to minimize risk. If this is not possible, consider the following:
The physical condition of the people involved e.g. age, fitness, pregnancy, vertigo, etc;
Equipment to be used;
Location, e.g. near or over water, roads, under power lines, over raked stage, etc;
The environment, e.g. weather, temperature, lighting;
Duration of the work;
Condition and stability of the work surfaces.
Precautions must be taken where a person can fall a distance of more than 2m. If there is an increased risk of injury when falling a distance of less than 2m, e.g. working near a traffic route or above a dangerous surface, suitable precautions will also be required.
There are many ways of preventing falls of people:
Edge protection, e.g. toe boards, guard rails;
Maintaining a safe distance from an edge;
To prevent objects falling onto people you need a proper management system which:
Provides barriers, e.g. a toe boards or mesh guards to prevent items from slipping or being knocked off the edge of a structure;
Secures objects to the structure, e.g. lashing of scaffold boards;
Ensures that there are no loose objects and that any tools are properly secured;
Creates an exclusion zone, where necessary, beneath areas where work is taking place.
In addition, when people are working at heights above other work areas, it is advisable to provide safety helmets to protect the workers below against falling objects. Danger areas can be clearly marked with suitable safety signs indicating that access is restricted to essential personnel wearing hard hats while this work is in progress.
Falls from collapsing structures
Structures need to be designed to be safe and to be built by competent people. The skills, knowledge and experience of the designer will depend upon the nature of the structure concerned and the use or uses to which it is put.
A competent person should inspect and attach a notice to a structure after completion and before it is put into use. Further inspections on a regular basis (at least weekly) and after severe weather (external structures) or if the structure is significantly altered, will also be needed.
The working at height is part of important work in construction sector. Meanwhile, construction sector is an important part of the economy in most countries, yet is generally considered to be dangerous, dirty, hard and unreliable. In spite of the low attention often given to construction sites injuries in many countries, the statistics continue to be alarming. Construction workers are two to three times more likely to die on the job than workers in other industries while the risk of serious injury is almost three times higher. The construction professionals and the workers concerned with the construction process have both professional and legal duties to take care, not only of their own health and safety at work, but the health and safety of others who might be put at risk by their acts and omissions.
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