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Workplace Health and Safety Queensland published a report yesterday (November 11) that highlights the dangers associated with industrial rope access.

This occupational health and safety (OHS) update comes on the back of two serious accidents that recently occurred on the Gold Coast, in which workers were using rope access systems incorrectly.

According to the Department of Justice and Attorney-General, one accident saw an employee’s working line break. He fell several storeys and hit the building repeatedly before the rope grab on his additional safety line locked into place.

The working line and safety line were both incorrectly set up over the top of a glass handrail. The glass broke at some point during the operation, and partially severed the working line.

Another worker was also injured due to his working line and safety line being set up incorrectly. In addition to this , the employee was not working below the anchor point, but was instead standing on a ledge beside it. He fell, creating a pendulum effect and swinging a total of 15 metres before hitting a window.

These accidents could have both been avoided if proper OHS procedures had been followed. Workplace Health and Safety Queensland states that, to prevent such incidents from occurring again, some of the following steps must be taken.

1) All employees must receive proper instruction and OHS training before using rope access systems, and should be carefully supervised while working.
2) If a working line and safety line must pass over an edge, make sure it’s efficiently protected so that it cannot be severed. NEVER place it over sharp edges or glass panels.
3) Make sure a rope grab device has been fitted, and is in good working order.

For more information, visit the Australian Rope Access Association.

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