While it is always distressing to see working from height accidents in Australia, it is important that industries learns lessons from these incidents and takes advice provided by relevant authorities.
This is certainly the case with SafeWork NSW, after the body released a report into an October 20 accident when two window cleaners fell around 10 storeys from a Sydney CBD building.
In fact, the released report coincided with another window cleaning incident on December 10, when a worker received leg injuries at The Rocks.
What caused the incident?
The report found significant issues with the mechanics of the winch and the cradle itself.
The harnessed workers were situated in a window cleaning cradle when it collapsed without warning. After the incident, SafeWork NSW immediately launched an investigation to determine who was at fault and what could have been done to prevent it.
Interestingly, the report found significant issues with the mechanics of the winch and the cradle itself. Based on the investigation, the collapse was caused by the failing of a single bolt which connects these two elements. When the bolt released its tension, the tension transferred the bolt at the other end and then this one also failed, causing the cradle to plummet to the awning below.
Could more have been done?
Upon investigation of the bolts and the cradle itself, SafeWork NSW discovered multiple fatigue-related cracks which weakened the structure over time. The only way that the business owners could have identified this problem was to disassemble the connection before work got underway.
“Operators should undertake regular inspections of building maintenance units and suspended scaffolds.”
SafeWork NSW Executive Director, Peter Dunphy said there was a lesson here for all employers who have employees working at heights.
“Operators should undertake regular inspections of building maintenance units and suspended scaffolds so that defects such as fatigue cracks are identified,” he said.
“They should also consider whether their current inspection and maintenance programs are adequate to prevent equipment failure in the future.”
Safety when window cleaning
While it is considered a dangerous job, the risks associated with window cleaning can be mitigated if those involved receive proper training. This should include everything from equipment use, emergency procedures and problem solving, according to insight from the UK’s Health and Safety Executive.
If your business has workers operating at heights, the team at Anchor Safe Systems can be of assistance. Whether this is related to fall protection system or equipment training, we can ensure your team has the insight to stay safe on the job.