Safety Gear Must Be Fit For Purpose

Worksafe NZ’s recent investigations into three serious falls reveals one thing they all have in common. Unsafe equipment was the primary cause. Identifying a workplace risk but not following up to ensure it is controlled is bad health and safety business practice according to Worksafe.

The comment follows the sentencing of a construction company in the Christchurch District Court after a painter was injured in the construction companies own workplace.

Worksafe says the case is a clear example of workplaces not ensuring safety gear is actually safe for use.

The injured painter was given incorrectly installed mobile scaffolding to work from. On the first day on the job the painter fell two metres from the scaffolding to the concrete floor below, landing head first and sustaining multiple fractures to his skull, face and ribs.

Whilst the contractor had identified a fall from a work platform as a risk and therefore that some form of fall protection was required, and it further noted that any such fall protection system needed to be correctly installed , they had no systems in place to ensure that pre work check took place to ensure that the safety equipment provided was installed correctly and fit for purpose.

There are two elements to this issue.

1. The equipment used must be confirmed as fit for purpose prior to use
2. The equipment used must be installed in a fully compliant manner.

In regard to the first issue, Safety Nets NZ has worked closely with the team at Massey University School of Engineering and Technology to ensure that the fall protection systems that are provided are fit for purpose by undertaking lengthy and robust testing of all elements of our safety net systems.

All PCBU’s have an obligation to ensure the health and safety of themselves and others. There is a “Duty to Test” placed on all PCBU’s to ensure that the materials and systems they use are capable of performing as expected without risk to health and safety of the workforce ( HSWA 2015) ( The Act)

As the Engineers at the University conclude, “The testing and research carried out confirms that Safety Nets NZ Limited has tested it’s systems in accordance with the requirements of the Act”.

Regards the second issue to ensure that all net systems are installed correctly and in a fully compliant manner, all of our riggers are certified to install safety nets and we have a robust and market leading system in place to ensure the ongoing compliance of our vast inventory of net stock.

Our net systems are only certified as fit for purpose on each site following final detailed inspection by our riggers, who then complete post installation checklist and sign off on the site specific Handover Certificate.

We also have a dedicated Inspector who is tasked with randomly auditing installations, and rigger performance, so that we can ensure that our high standards of workmanship are maintained.

Therefore, all of our clients can rest assured that as PCBU they have discharged their duties regards the requirements of the Act. They can also be confident that the soft fall protection systems we provide have been independently tested and perform at the required standard, and that they are using a system that is without risk to the health and safety of their workforce.

So when considering the type of equipment/system to be adopted to address a specific safety risk remember that it needs to be fit for purpose upon installation, as well as for the lifetime that it is in use on your site.

Until next time


13 2019