Working at Heights

Recently, BVT engineers Sam and Cam completed a Working at Heights training course through Tai Poutini Polytechnic. BVT have been carrying out more and more fall arrest and construction monitoring where falling from a height is a risk, and completion of the course allows us to demonstrate our competence against NZQA Unit Standard 15757 – Use, install and disestablish proprietary fall arrest systems when working at height.

At the beginning of the course, the need for Working at Heights knowledge was outlined. While Worksafe must be notified for non-routine work over 5 m, and the old Health and Safety in Employment Regulations required specific controls at heights over 3 m, reasonable and practicable steps must now be taken to prevent harm during work at any height at which there is a risk of injury from a fall, (HSE Regulations 1995 and BPG for Working at Heights 2012).

The first day of the course was familiarisation with the basic safety equipment used when working at height and what to look out for when checking gear. Some faults in gear are obvious, but others are not. For example, most gear should have a CE, EN or AS/NZS standard displayed showing that it has the strength required for fall arrest. It’s much better to spend a few seconds checking the gear you’re using is up to standard before you use it, rather than finding out that it isn’t when you’re falling off the side of a building.

The second morning was spent learning about and setting up fall arrest and fall restraint systems. The difference between arrest and restraint is that fall arrest catches you when you fall, whereas fall restraint prevents you from falling in the first place by restricting access to edges. For our applications, mainly rooftop inspections, we will mainly be using fall restraint systems.

Finally, the guys finished off with some practice rescues as a group. These involved constructing a pulley system to take the slack off the fallen person’s line so that they could be transferred to a new line and then lowered to the ground using a descender.

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As a result of attending the working at heights course Sam and Cam not only have the required unit standards to work in a fall arrest harness, but also have increased confidence to use the associated equipment.

Written by Sam Bamford and Cam Bethwaite.