Stopping Falls From Heights

Health and safety inspectors visiting one contruction site were shocked to find two young apprentices working on a girder 5metres above the ground in order to paint a support beam. Asked why they did not have safety harnesses or nets in place the men said they had been told that because they were still on the ground floor it was alright.  Fortunately for them the legislation relating to working at heights is quite specific. No person should be allowed to fall more than 2.4 metres on a worksite – no matter what floor of the site they are on. 

In Australia one of the biggest causes of injury is falling from a height.  And as people in the building and maintenance industries will tell you working at heights is a common situation for most tradesmen.

 Luckily there are some very good products on the market today that remove or at least control the risk of injury through a fall event. Safety Concepts has reviewed a couple for this article.

The first is SAFETNETT,  a unique netting system that spans internal voids of any size or shape with a sturdy nylon netting material. The inventor of this product says the incentive to design it came from a tragic fall by a plasterer friend into a staircase void on a double story building site. Spurned on to create a device that would protect the void but at the same time allow the passage of people and material between floors the this inventor came up with the SAFETNETT, an incredibly strong but flexible netting that covers the void and is held in place by an patented fastening system. Right now the net is used by project builders and on construction sites throughout Victoria and Queensland with exellent results. To date there have been five recorded falls into the net and in each fall there were no injuries. If you want to know more get onto the website at

Another big issue for people working from heights involves ladders. In a study published in the Medical Journal of Australia (Mitra, Cameron and Gabbe, 2006) it was reported that at one hospital in Victoria between 2001 an 2005 that 4553 patients were admitted after falls from ladders. And in spite of the dangers being well publicised the number of injuries involving ladders has increased 6%. In the European Union it is now a safety requirement that anti-slip devices must be used when working on ladders. 

Anti-slip devices are placed under the foot of the ladder to prevent ladders slipping away from the surfaces they are placed upon. Such devices have been proven to be more effective in preventing ladders slipping than having a person foot the ladder. One such anti-slip device is the Rojak Ladder Stopper (  The Rojak product has been used succcessfully by British Telecom  in the UK to cut ladder related incidents in half  in its first year of use. It looks like a simple product to use and is a quite cheap piece of equipment. 

Both products are easy to use and for the Safety Concepts team are incredibly good value for money.

About the Author

Safety Concepts is an online resource providing up to date insights and covering issues in the field of Workplace Safety.

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