IRATA Safety Notice- keeping our industry safe

1. Summary

Incident 1: Beam used to hoist a banner got stuck. When released, it hit an employee in the face. Technician had a bleeding nose.

Incident 2: While welding a length of chain onto a cross member, the technician used a gloved hand to initially place the chain. During the welding process a piece of welding slag lodged on a recess of the glove, burnt through the glove which resulted in a first aid treatable burn to the finger. The burn was treated with a tropical burn cream and the technician returned to work. The technician should have used a clamp to hold the chain in place while welding, instead of a gloved hand.

Incident 3: Due to welding above our worksite, weld spatters rained on our equipment resulting in a waste bag catching fire.

2. Conclusions

While the above examples are related to trades specific tasks – rigging and welding - safework principles apply to all working at heights and rope access situations. These cases highlight the need to take care with unfamiliar tasks and the arising risks and hazards requiring pre-execution identification to prepare safe operation. The responsible IRATA site safety supervisor, although experienced in his trade of rope access, must consult with the specialist trades person, engineer, inspector etc. and all team members at large to appropriately plan and execute the task as outlined in the scope, utilising the correct techniques, tools and PPE.

3. Recommendations

 Refer to ICOP Annex A - Risk Assessment for guidelines and principles of the risk assessment process, which can and should be applied to all work situations.

 Refer to ICOP Annex M - M.5 Hot work and M.4 Bulky, awkward or heavy equipment in particular, regarding the above examples.

 Refer to ICOP 2.11.9 - Communication. Rigging and lifting activities on ropes, for example, shall follow the same principle as operations on ground level. Where spotters are necessary to closely monitor a load in motion, ensure the technician is adequately trained and briefed on the task and the commands used during the operation. Ensure alternative communication is available to the team in case one method fails during operation (e.g. failure of radio communication, excess noise inhibit clear conversations etc).

 When planning activities, consider the bigger picture, not only those hazards affecting the immediate vicinity and the technicians performing the work but anticipate the whole area where affected works may possibly reach. Welding splatters may drain away from the immediate job location setting waste on fire however, this could have severe consequences if the resulting fire is cutting off/inhibiting your escape and retrieval routes.

 There may be occasions where PPE worn to access and egress a work place may differ to the PPE required to carry out a given task (e.g. gloves), for further information refer to ICOP 2.7.14 – clothing and protective equipment.

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