Height safety consulting and training provider Height Wise Training Academy launched its new fall-protection planner training programme, in May, to ensure that South Africans working at heights of 2 m or higher are safer.
The training programme is designed for site supervisors, project managers and safety officers. It assists clients with comprehensive and up-to-date information on how to remain compliant with occupational health and safety laws, specifically Construction Regulations Chapters 7 and 8.
“It is important for companies to implement fall-protection plans, as it protects employees who work at heights,” says academy director Penny Fabricius.
The programme offers participants two days of classroom-based training, during which they are taught how to design a fall-protection plan.
Participants are then given six weeks to design a fall-protection plan to demonstrate their ability to apply their learning to real work situations. This is also aimed at ensuring the development of an effective training management system that ensures the safe cataloguing of all employee training records.
The programme took about four months to develop and South African safety consultancy Ascentech Safety Consultancy provided the training material for Height Wise.
“The training manual contains new and detailed information that enables clients to assess their work site and prepare a fall-protection plan. “This ensures that all staff members working at heights of more than 2 m above ground receive sufficient at-height safety training as prescribed under the Occupational Health and Safety Act,” Fabricius says.
The fall-protection planner training programme includes an informative and structured learner guide, a systematically structured study programme, a systematic approach to the structure and purpose of a fall-protection plan, direct and clear linking of information to the Act, construction regulations and the relevant standards.
Fall-protection plan concepts have changed over the years and many current training manuals are outdated, says Ascentech director Louis Roodt.
“The way fall-protection plans were written in the past has changed. Instead of merely forcing large volumes of information on trainees, the Ascentech manual is written systematically to ensure they are not required to trawl through irrelevant information, but rather to identify what they are specifically looking for,” he adds.
Roodt, along with Carl Labuschagne, who does contract work for Ascentech, facilitates the training programme on behalf of Height Wise.
Height Wise provides training at its academy in Midrand but also encourages its clients to undertake on-site training.
“We are committed to providing on-site training, as it is more cost effective for the client and, more importantly, it provides trainees with a hands-on approach to learn essential safety skills in a real-life environment,” says Fabricius.
She notes that the major causes of accidents at heights are human error, complacency and compromising on costs.
“Some fly-by-night companies go to the extreme of buying second-hand equipment to lower their costs and ignore the training that is required for working at heights.
“Education about safety at heights should be a strategic matter for companies, and they, as well as their workers, need to become familiar with the legis- lative requirements,” she suggests.
Roodt believes that some South African companies are lagging in the safety-at-heights field, as many fall-protection plans are not designed by qualified developers.
“Many of the fall-protection plans I have reviewed for companies were, at best, vague with little or no reference to actual implementation. “They lacked practical methods and documentation to record implementation. “Many fall-protection plans stated very vague reference to work at height training.
“Where training is referenced, it was mostly referred to as an internal training procedure, with no link to formal or recognised training standards and certification,” he states.
The Height Wise training programme is aligned to national standards and is accredited by the Services Sector Education and Training Authority. The academy also issues competence certificates endorsed by the Institute for Work at Height.