Fall-arrest systems ensure safety of personnel

9th September 2011 By: Nomvelo Buthelezi

Rope access specialist Skyriders is installing fall-arrest systems at Palabora Mining Company’s copper mine and smelter complex, in Limpopo.

Fall-arrest systems are used to ensure the safety of personnel working at height.

The systems being installed at the mine will comprise stainless steel wire rope that is fixed to cat ladders. This will ensure that personnel are able to safely climb up and down the ladders.

Skyriders marketing manager Mike Zinn notes that many companies are not well informed regarding their responsibilities and duties when it comes to work at height.

In any business that involves work at height, particularly the mining and power utility sectors, it is important to abide by the safety regulations.

A lot of mines and power stations have become aware of the need for improved safety in the workplace, especially when working at height. “Some companies are putting additional safety systems in place,” says Zinn.

Further, he explains that permanent steel-wire-rope-type fall-arrest systems used in conjunction with the correct fall-arrest personal protective equipment and training are a far better option than temporary static line rope systems. The yearly inspection and maintenance of such systems are critical to its longevity and effectiveness.

Meanwhile, Zinn highlights the benefits of rope access. He points out that scaffolding is usually costly and time consuming to erect, whereas rope access systems are more efficient and less time consuming to set up.

Skyriders has used the rope access method on sites such as Palabora Mining’s mine and smelter complex and also the Orlando Towers project, where it built the suspension bridge between the Orlando Towers.

The bridge, which was completed two years ago, was built with the use of ropes and is made mainly from steel wire rope.

Meanwhile, the company is finalising the installation of various safety systems that involve the use of steel wire ropes for Anglo American Thermal Coal’s Isibonelo colliery, in Mpumalanga.

The project involves the installation of safety cables on the draglines and other equipment used at height, such as cat ladders and cranes.

Zinn says Skryriders plans to encourage the use of its systems in the mining community, where there is a drive to become compliant with safety regulations.

The company will soon collaborate with the University of Pretoria, where it will install safety wire rope cables for the Drama Department students for productions that require roof access, as well as the technicians that are required to do maintenance repairs in the roof. With this added feature, they will have the security of the fall-arrest systems that will allow them to move around safely on the roof.