Being struck or hit by an object is one of the major causes of injuries in workplaces across Australia every year. Falling objects in particular have the potential to cause severe injury or even death to workers, visitors, congregants and members of the public, and church leaders need to be mindful of this and take precautions to prevent such events from occurring.
How are falling objects defined?
Falling objects are defined not only as items that fall from heights but also those that can be released sideways or upwards (such as debris). They may include:
- Items on construction sites such as tools, bricks, or scaffolding.
- Objects that fall from lifting equipment.
- Parts of buildings on demolition sites.
- Poorly secured items on walls such as pictures or notice boards.
- Files or books on over-stacked or poorly stacked shelving.
- Poorly secured ceiling panels.
- Trees or branches falling onto walking paths.
- Objects falling due to structural collapse.
Risk management includes identifying hazardous situations that have the potential to cause someone to be struck by a falling object, assessing the level of risk and taking measures to minimise harm. This may include the following:
- Providing adequate protection and training for workers or volunteers involved in maintenance or construction.
- Developing methods for fall prevention such as physical barriers, guardrails, or netting.
- Using a chute (rather than a tossing method) to transfer debris into skips.
- Isolating dangerous areas from congregants and members of the public.
- Ensuring wall items are properly secured.
- Stacking shelves safely, with heavier items on the lower levels.
- Securing shelving to walls to prevent collapse.
- Properly securing loads on lifting equipment.
- The provision of overhead coverings on walkways.
- Keeping trees in a healthy and safe condition. (See our article on tree maintenance here).
- Purposefully looking out for the risk of falling objects when conducting safety inspections.
More information on this issue can be found here at SafeWork Australia. General information on occupational health and safety is available at WorkSafe Victoria, or see SafeWork Australia for other States and Territories.
Written by Tess Oliver
Tags: employees, health & safety, volunteers