When it comes to working at heights and keeping your team safe, you need safety railing systems.
These systems protect you against fall hazards by placing a physical guardrail between the hazard and the worker.
Some of the most common scenarios that require safety railing systems include working at the edge of a roof, working on scaffolding, and other elevated work environments.
According to Safe Work Australia, 11% of all workplace fatalities between 2003 and 2015 were the result of falling from a height.
The use of fall protection systems such as safety rails is also governed by Australian Standards and the Working At Height Association (WAHA).
It’s clear that you need safety railing systems in some environments, but it’s less obvious in other settings.
In this article, we’re going to outline some of the less obvious places on your worksite where safety railing systems should be used.
7 Areas on a Worksite Where You Need Safety Railing Systems
Indoor Areas Such as Mezzanines
When people think of working at heights, they usually think of outdoor environments like roofs or scaffolding on the outside of a building.
We’re including this item on the list to draw attention to indoor areas like mezzanines.
The trouble with these types of environments is that they’re elevated but open to the floor below them.
While falling from a mezzanine may seem minor, it can cause serious injuries or even fatalities depending on the circumstances.
Investing in indoor/mezzanine safety railing systems is the key to ensuring safety in these environments.
Elevated Areas in Warehouses
Carrying on from the previous point, warehouses are another indoor environment where preventing fall hazards should be a consideration.
Many warehouses have mezzanine floors as well as elevated storage areas to take advantage of vertical storage space.
As well as considering forklift safety, warehouse operators must also ensure all raised environments are protected by safety railing systems.
If appropriate safety railing is not included in your warehouse environment, this should be added promptly.
Access Hatches and Skylights
Roof hatches or access hatches are incredibly convenient for roof access, but they also come with hazards of their own. While a closed access hatch may not be a fall hazard, an open access hatch definitely is.
But this begs the question. If roof hatches are safest when closed, why not just close them when working on the roof?
Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Roof hatches are often left open on worksites for easy movement, entry, and exit.
In some cases, a hatch can be opened from the inside but not the outside. Relying on your team to close the roof hatch also allows for human error and the worst possible outcome.
This is why it’s easiest just to erect safety rails around your access hatch.
When it comes to skylights, a similar logic applies. While there is no direct access point, fall injuries are still possible if too much weight or force is applied to a skylight.
The lack of obvious hazards may even lull workers into a false sense of security around skylights.
This makes it even more important to mark them as dangerous with a safety railing installation.
Stairs, Walkways, and Platforms
We’re including this one on the list because of the potential to leave a job half done. Stairs, walkways, and platforms are all erected on a worksite to achieve safer, easier access.
Stairs, walkways, and platforms are often installed on roofs, between roofs, on construction sites, on cooling towers, and in similar environments.
They give the worker a stable platform to walk across and work on, providing safety and convenience on the worksite.
However, these stairs, walkways, and platforms should also be matched with safety rails, especially considering they are typically installed for the purposes of working from heights.
Don’t leave the job half done! Ensure all the relevant fall prevention systems have been installed.
Balconies and Other Areas with Parapets
Like skylights, parapets are another feature that can give you a false sense of security on a worksite.
These extra barriers often feature on roofs, balconies, and in other areas. While they may provide some level of fall protection, they are generally not high enough to properly protect you when working at heights.
They won’t meet Australian safety standards, and more importantly, they won’t prevent workplace injuries or fatalities.
Never be fooled into thinking that parapets are enough to protect you from a fall.
Wall Mounted Ladders
A ladder that’s physically attached to a wall is certainly safer than a standard ladder.
It can’t move, it can’t tip over, and it may even feature additional protection when you’re climbing up and down, depending on the design.
What a wall-mounted ladder can’t do is protect you before you get to it. If you’re walking to a wall-mounted ladder to climb down it, or waiting up the top for someone to go up or down, you need protection.
Install safety railing systems in the area around the ladder so your team is safe when they’re standing in its vicinity.
Moving from Roof to Roof
As noted from the top, roofs are an incredibly obvious location where safety railing systems are required.
In fact, Safe Work Australia identifies falling from roofs as the number one cause of death among all other falling from height fatalities.
While we all remember safety rails for the edge of the roof, it’s easy to forget railings for when you’re moving from one part of the roof to another.
This could be another section of the roof on a building or the same section where the pitch or elevation has changed.
When moving across a rooftop, it’s important to follow the same fall prevention measures that you would put in place at the edge of a roof.
Take the Steps to Secure Your Working Environment.
When it comes to working at heights, it’s important to partner with a supplier who can not only provide all the right products, but also install, inspect, certify, and audit your working environments for you.
Remember that no matter where you are working, fall prevention and workplace safety should always be at the front of your mind.