The estimated 350,000 Australians who work at height, maintaining buildings, face a deadly threat, with as many as 31 percent of life-saving safety anchors unable to meet the most basic safety standards.
The Working At Heights Association (WAHA), which represents manufacturers and installers of fall prevention equipment, has revealed dramatic footage of several types of commonly used roof safety anchors failing ‘drop tests’ in accordance with Australian Standard AS/NZS5532.
In the tests, 100-kilogram loads dropped through two metres tear single-person anchors away from their mounts, while 150-kilogram loads for two-person use hit the ground, smashing the weights. Only one out of the five anchors tested pass.
“The results are shocking,” says the secretary of WAHA Gordon Cadzow. “Hundreds of thousands of plumbers and other Australian tradies stake their lives on this equipment every day, while they do routine maintenance tasks like cleaning gutters and servicing air-conditioners. I can’t tell you how traumatic it is to speak with the families of people who’ve been killed after a fall. The association is determined to make a difference.”
Cadzow says WAHA met with regulators after audits showed a low level of compliance with safety standards for fixed ladders and anchors, and it has begun a fresh round of urgent briefings given the new test results.
“Australia’s rooftops are bristling with anchors unfit for use,” he says. “Until the regulators can take decisive action, WAHA urges workers and employers to demand a report from an accredited lab proving roof anchors pass the basic AS/NZS5532 drop test before they are used.”
The Working At Heights Association recommends concerned workers contact their state regulators for advice and more information is available at www.waha.org.au/fall-crisis