ernest henry mine harnesses fall protection message

The dangers of incorrectly using fall protection equipment has been reinforced at Ernest Henry Mining (EHM).

According to Safe Work Australia:

  • Falling from a height was the cause of 11% of all work-related deaths in Australia
  • Half of the fatal falls involved distances of three metres or less
  • Workers aged 45 years and over made up 65% of those who died.

EHM hosted a series of valuable hands-on information and demonstration sessions in October around the importance of working safely at heights and how fall protection equipment works to prevent death and injury.

Using the Emergency Response Team dummy, Buster, experts from 3M and Alliance Safety clearly illustrated the consequences of falling four metres from a platform.

Workers were provided with specialist instruction on the mandatory working at heights and fall protection equipment with detailed explanations on their use and function.

They were also shown the best way to lower someone who has fallen from heights using the R550 rescue kit.

The sessions emphasised the importance of not only having the correct equipment but also using and wearing it correctly.

Working at heights is one of Glencore's key Fatal Hazard Protocols (FHPs) and is managed by corresponding Life Saving Behaviors. A working at heights environment is one in which the worker is more than 2 metres above the ground, and as such requires the use of suitable fall protection equipment.

Denzil Cowen, Safety Advisor at Ernest Henry Mining says working at heights is one of the most important FHPs at EHM.

"Across Glencore, working at heights is identified as a fatal hazard due to the number of serious injuries and fatalities that have occurred within our workforce," Denzil says.

"Having practical demonstrations is a very useful way to safely connect our team to the consequences of getting height safety wrong. These demonstrations unveil how quickly a falling object builds energy which can lead to serious injury or even a fatality in the event of an uncontrolled incident.

"Bringing the 3M trailer to site means we get to show teams that perform duties under the working at heights protocols the real consequences of using the correct or incorrect equipment.

"The demonstration really reiterates the importance of selecting the correct gear for the job and making sure it fits properly."

Jenna Hinds, Health Advisor at Ernest Henry Mining who took part in the training says she enjoyed the demonstration and learnt a lot about the many different types of harness there are and their uses.

"It was really eye-opening to see how serious the repercussions were if using inappropriate gear and not wearing your harness correctly," says Jenna.

what is working at heights?

An activity or condition where a worker:

  • Is exposed to the hazard of falling (vertically) at two (2) metres or more
  • Has access to an open side of a raised floor, mezzanine, balcony, gallery, landing, platform, walkway, stile, ramp or other surface and is exposed to the hazard of falling two (2) metres or more, or
  • Works from elevated work platforms, scissor lifts, ladders, personnel work boxes and is exposed to the hazard of falling two (2) metres or more.

what are associated life saving behaviours?

  • Always come to work drug & alcohol free
  • Always use or wear critical safety equipment
  • Always wear appropriate fall protection equipment when working above two (2) metres
  • Only operate equipment if trained and authorized
  • Never modify or over-ride critical safety equipment without approval
  • Never enter Danger Zones
  • Always report injuries and High Potential Risk Incidents (HPRIs).

what is your role in safely working at heights?

  • Plan and risk assess the task prior to commencing
  • Know the rescue plan
  • If you are not trained and competent to work at height, call on somebody who is
  • Ensure that all equipment are subjected to pre-start checks and in a serviceable condition
  • Remove damaged or faulty equipment from service
  • Barricade the drop zones and access ways to the area
  • Ensure that when you are working at height you do not work alone
  • Ensure any work group that could be affected by your activity is aware.