On 19 October 2010, a 40-year old man died in an industrial accident in Vanderbijlpark when he slipped and fell seven metres onto his head. The man was working on scaffolding at a construction site.
On 16 May 2010, another employee was working on a ship in the Table Bay harbour on top of three stacked containers, totalling a height of nine metres. The man slipped, fell, and was found by ER24 paramedics to be lodged between a ledge and the side of a narrow walk-way between the containers. Luckily the man survived the incident, but not without injury and discomfort.
The very nature of working at height can make it difficult to control danger. Most warehousing, maintenance and construction work takes place above ground level, and workers can easily find themselves working at significant heights. Add the constantly changing landscape and new hazards that develop at a moment’s notice – many of which can result in serious or even fatal injury – and one begins to understand why falling from height is the leading safety concern within industry.
“Fatalities and many serious injuries have occurred when workers have fallen from pallets mounted on FLT forks, ladders, unsafe scaffolding or similar situations involving a lack of adequate equipment to gain access at height,” says Larry Smith, Director, Eazi Sales & Service.
Scaffolding accidents are a big risk for those that work in the construction industry. Figures from the UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) show that during 2005/2006, 46 people died, and 3 351 suffered serious personal injury. These scaffolding injuries are not exclusive to trips and falls, but also include head injuries from being struck by falling tools, and electrocution and burns due to proximity of the scaffold to overhead power lines. Scaffolding takes a lot of time to build and dismantle, increasing the cost of labour for the company that uses it. It also requires high physical effort to get to and from the working level.
Due to its instability and lack of proper support, ladders are not always the solution to a work-at-height problem either. Research shows ladders should only be considered for light work of short duration, and where the use of other, more suitable equipment is not appropriate. Although ladders are relatively low cost, they provide a limited work area and are very labour intensive.
Forklifts are seen as versatile site equipment; however, it is not easy to lift people to any required working level. A forklift also requires more people per task and provides a very restricted work area.
According to certified studies, done by reputable safety institutions, there is evidence to suggest that Mobile Elevated Working Platforms (MEWPs) are safer, more productive, cost effective and avoid unnecessary strain and injury. Only one person is required to drive and operate the MEWP and very little time is required for setup. Other benefits include quicker access to the required working level, excellent stability and a larger working area for the employee.
“MEWPS are also easier for site management to maintain the appropriate safety standards on-site. Its built-in safety features also reduce accidents caused by human error,” says Smith.
In addition to risking the lives of employees, inadequate safety equipment can also lead to a loss of income, and other significant costs. Many companies are only just starting to understand the hidden costs associated with accidents, injuries and fatalities. While accidents can run up fines, legal costs and damages to equipment; the cost of downtime during investigations, reputational damage, site clean-up, loss of customers or contracts and contract overrun expenses are often overlooked.
Customers who have chosen to adopt MEWPs, either through purchasing or renting, have reaped the rewards of a safer and more productive method of performing work at height.
Its dedication to safe systems has earned Eazi Sales & Service, distributors of JLG Aerial Work Platforms, a well-deserved reputation as a reliable supplier of cost-effective and safe work-at-height solutions across a wide range of industries.
“Despite good awareness about common hazards and risks, and the recent downward trend in fall-related accidents, statistics still prove that working at height remains a real threat. It is therefore critical for employers to safeguard their workers from this perilous danger, by taking all the necessary and possible measures,” says Smith. Eazi Sales & Services aims to ensure that safety is achieved as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible.
Eazi Sales & Service is the sole distributor of JLG access platforms and telescopic material handlers servicing Southern Africa and various countries within Africa, offering maintenance, repairs, JLG-parts and technical advice. The various industry sectors that Eazi serves include construction, industrial, transport, aviation, mining, warehousing, and petrochemical, among others. The company provides a complete turnkey solution to its customers through its national footprint and southern African support structure. Eazi Sales & Service provides safe, productive and cost-effective working at height solutions to its customers.
For more information on quality products and services from Eazi Sales & Service, please visit our website www.eazi.co.za or contact us on 086 100 5540