Falls in the manufacturing industry continue to be one of the top causes of injury. A fall, even from a relatively low height, can result in serious injury or even death. In manufacturing, falls are generally from working platforms that aren’t secured, working platforms that aren’t used properly, of course ladders, but also off vessels and all those areas where you have to work at height.

Falls in the manufacturing sector could result in:

  • broken arms, legs, wrists, ankles.
  • spine or neck injuries resulting in
  • permanent disability.
  • Brain damage if the worker falls on their head.

An avoidable incident

I went to an incident where a particular contractor was putting in a repair for a large gear, so mining gear. He had to remove a handrail to get the plant into this well and they did not replace the handrail. The worker assumed it was on there still, leant to where he thought it was and fell four metres into the well.

He hit his head on the pavement which, unfortunately in manufacturing it’s all concrete pavement, and broke an arm and a leg. Thankfully, he fully recovered but took a long period of time.

This could have been prevented had the contractor properly trained the workers on height safety and educated them on the prevalence of falls in the manufacturing industry.

 

Its impact on the business

A poor safety record, as I spoke to one director, in this particular matter, affected his future programs of work and when he tendered for work. The impact on the business could also come in the short-term in the form of fines. One incident is worthy of mention, an incident that broke a worker’s jaw at the Cloud break iron ore mine in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

The man was conducting maintenance work on the mine’s conveyor belt system when he was struck in the face by a hook attached to a hand operated hoist in September 2014. He suffered a broken jaw, requiring the surgical insertion of a neurostimulator to suppress chronic pain.

The two companies involved have been fined a total of an outstanding $176,000 for not following safety protocol and giving the workers proper training and education on the falls in the manufacturing industry. The companies were also fined for lacking proper safety equipment such as guardrails.

An advice to the industry

If I was going to give some advice to industry around safeguarding from falls in the manufacturing industry, it would be to plan your work, and follow these steps:

Before starting any task, you need to make sure you have all the people necessary to safely and professionally achieve it while also minimizing the risks involved.

Make sure you consult with the people doing the task, because no doubt they’ll have some input there.

Furthermore, If you consult with your workers, they take a level of ownership. So if you do that then people will by their own nature want to improve themselves and the business.

When you risk assess, you want to take in consideration all the work activities for that task and then assess them against a risk matrix or a method that highlights the high areas of risk.

Following these steps, you would go a long way to completing your task without risk of injury and probably make save money and lives.

If you feel unsure about the level of height safety in your project or have any concerns or inquiries, you may contact us.

In Conclusion

Falls in the construction and maintenance industries are more common than we’d like them to be. Nonetheless, we’ve all heard that fall protection is too much of a hassle, that it gets in the way of production, or that it costs too much to implement.

The fact is that fall protection doesn’t have to be expensive and it can be used easily on the job site.

why use fall protection?
There’s a real simple answer: it could save your life.

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References

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