Is it allowable to use a ladder within a meter of a live-edge with a harness and a rope and no other edge protection?

You’ve identified a serious falls risk.

A formal risk assessment should be conducted and any risk eliminated, so far as is reasonably practicable (SFARP).  

If it is not reasonably practicable to eliminate, then OHS regulation 44 requires the below hierarchy be applied...

  • Level 1 control: work on the ground or a solid construction
  • Level 2 control: use a passive fall prevention device
  • Level 3 control: use a work positioning system
  • Level 4 control: use a fall arrest system
  • Level 5 control: use a fixed or portable ladder (in accordance with regulation 45 of the OHS Regulations) or administrative

Your scenario prompts the following questions:

  • Why is it not reasonably practicable to use something much safer than a ladder?- we have the technology and equipment
  • What is preventing the ladder from falling over the edge? Only proper, approved and tested lanyards and harnesses must be utilised as a ‘preventative fall device’
  • What approved training has the employer provided to the employees on attaching lanyards to the approved and tested anchor points?
  • What approved training has the employer provided to the employees on the correct wearing and fitting of harness and lanyards?
  • What engineered approved and tested anchor points are the lanyards being attached to?
  • What rescue plan is in place to rescue a person if they fall off the ladder and over the edge?

Falls from height are a major workplace hazard resulting in fatalities and injuries across a broad range of Victorian industries, with construction accounting for 27% of fall-related injury claims.

You have the Right to refuse Unsafe Work so don’t risk it.

Instead, we strongly encourage you to raise this with your HSR and Union as a matter of urgency. Work should cease until the issue is addressed.

For OHS advice, Ask Renata

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