Industry News

Nearly 100 People Attend CTC’s Safety Seminar

Nearly 100 people from various stakeholder groups attended CTC’s Safety Series Seminar on Wednesday, 27th May 2015.  The third in a series of safety seminars focusing on high risk activities, the topic this time was working at heights and rope access.

Falling from heights is the leading cause of death in the construction industry. It’s three times more common in construction than in any other industry, with 1.03 deaths per 100,000 workers. In addition to the high number of fatalities due to falls, each day, 21 workers lodged a workers’ compensation claim for a falls-related injury and required one or more weeks off work, across all industries Australia-wide, according to Safe Work Australia’s report Work related injuries and fatalities involving a fall from height, October 2013.

The Construction Training Centre CEO Phil Diver said it was for this reason that the Centre chose heights and rope access as the topic for their Safety Series Seminar.

Mick2Three industry experts spoke at the event.

The first presenter was Mick Rustichelli who is a Safety Supervisor with Visionstream and is also their national subject matter expert for high risk activities.  His expertise is with rope access work on telecommunications towers.  Seminar attendees appreciated Mick’s practical demonstration of a rope rescue.

Mick’s segment was followed by a talk from Chris Milne whose Sydney-based company Inov8 Access, specialises in height safety installation and specialised rigging services in the construction industry.  Chris is a board member of the Australian Rope Access Association (ARAA) – one of three associations that represent the interests of the heights and rope access industry.  The others are the Industrial Rope Access Trade Association (IRATA) and the Working at Heights Association (WAHA).

Chris spoke about how the rope access sector has matured in recent times – it’s one that has moved from being adventure-based to a strong and capable community servicing the needs of industries such as construction, telecommunications, mining, oil and gas and many more.

Rope access technicians are highly trained. The ARAA (which Chris represents) offers three levels of training –

Level 1: Basic descent rescue

The level 1 operator is the entry point for workers in the industry. Workers with this qualification may work under the supervision of a level 2 or level 3 ARAA operative depending on the specific site classification.  The level 1 worker shall be able to conduct works on a ‘basic’ site characterised by vertical works.

Level 2: Site SupervisorChris Milne

Following no less than 500 logged rope access hours, an operator may apply for a level 2 operator assessment.  Operators at the completion of a successful level 2 assessment may supervise workers on a ‘basic’ site and may also work under the supervision of a Level 3 Operator on an ‘Advanced’ site.  The level 2 operators skill extends beyond the level one vertical world and into the horizontal dimension. This skill is accompanied by appropriate rescue techniques and administrative controls for this work method.

Level 3:  Ability to do complex rescues in confined space, large towers, under structures

Following no less than 500 logged rope access hours as a level 2, an operator may apply for a level 3 assessment. Operatives at the completion of a successful level 3 assessment  may run projects including those on sites classified as ‘Advanced.’ This operative is versed in not only technical skills but additionally in administrative type controls and requirements for health and safety.  The Level 3 is currently the highest level operator assessed in ARAA and results in opening a worker to higher level skills in the vertical and horizontal planes, rescue and mechanical advantage.

He told the audience that the ability for rope access technicians to come to a worksite with very little gear, enabling them to move around a site more efficiently, has been an important development in the construction industry.

Chris said more work needs to be done with building design to accommodate anchorage systems.

The final speaker was Tom Martin who is Regional Manager with Capital Safety a major supplier of fall protection equipment in Australia.  Tom spoke about recent innovations in fall protection and rescue equipment that help keep workers safe at heights in various environments.Tom Martin

Some points to take away from the seminar …

  • It’s a sector of the industry where a little knowledge can be very dangerous.
  • Operators should undertake continuous and regular training including refresher training.
  • Workers must have access to quality training by a reputable provider (RTO).
  • Operators must have access to the right equipment for the job.
  • Safety is the key

Persons in charge of a business or undertaking (PCBU) have the right to check the quality of equipment and the skills of rope access technicians.  Some things to check include:

  • The physical condition of the equipment used by a rope access technician.
  • The equipment is tagged and within test date.
  • Appropriate preparation is completed including equipment checks and there is a pre-rigged rescue kit available.
  • A PCBU has the right to ask for the technician to review their rescue and retrieval process.
  • It is key to ensure the technician can demonstrate skills and abilities – not only on paper.

Resource documents will be available from the ARAA shortly.

Go to our YouTube channel to view the talks from Mick Ruschtelli and Chris Mile.  And here for the talk from Tom Martin and the panel discussion.

Visit Hot Leasing to learn about CTC’s start of the art high risk work licence and safety training facilities.

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