Safety training successful across Africa

12th September 2014

Height safety consulting and training provider Height Wise, a subsidiary of rope-access provider Skyriders, has trained more than 1 200 people from several industries, including Africa’s mining, telecommunications and energy sectors, in the basic principles of the company’s fall-arrest systems.

Height Wise’s fall-arrest systems are all compliant with the Institute for Work at Height (IWH) and National Qualifications Framework standards.

Fall arrest training is essential for the day-to-day safety of all workers in South Africa who are carrying out tasks more than 2 m above the ground, says Height Wise director Penny Fabricius.

She highlights that the stringent law, enforced by the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), aims to ensure worker safety. “A considerable amount of workers in South Africa are exposed to varying degrees of working at height, and it is the responsibility of the employer under OHSA to ensure that all employees obtain basic life-saving skills for the work environment.”

“The IWH was formed as a result of the merger between the Specialised Access Engineering and Manufacturers Association and the Rope Access and Fall Arrest Association, and is currently working with the Department of Labour to establish a professional body for South Africa’s work- at-height sector,” says Fabricius.

“By providing training courses that are IWH-approved, Height Wise is assuring trainees that they are receiving the highest-quality standards in safety training,” she adds.

Courses Offered
Height Wise Academy offers two fall-arrest training courses. Level One, which is a basic one-day course, ensures legal compliance at height and provides learners with general information about fall-arrest principles and practices.

This course enables the trainee to perform a limited range of rope access tasks and rescues. To move from a Level One to a Level Two rope-access technician, the trainee must complete a minimum of 750 logged working hours.

Level Two is an advanced two-day course, which enables the trainee to conduct rescues at height. This course is recommended for supervisors who are in charge of technicians working at height, says Fabricius.

Trainees who complete the Level Two course are provided with a Height Wise certificate, which qualifies an operator to manage the safety of personnel working at height. A minimum of 1 000 working hours must be logged to qualify for Level Three training.

Level Three is the highest level of rope-access training and all supervisors are required to qualify from this course, as it enables them to supervise rope-access teams and to perform advanced manoeuvres and on-site rescues.

On-Site Training Necessary
While Height Wise provides training at its academy in Midrand, the company encourages all clients to undergo on-site training.

“Height Wise is committed to providing all training on site, as it is more cost effective for the client. More importantly, it provides trainees with a hands-on approach to learning essential safety skills in a ‘real-life’ environment,” explains Fabricius.
In addition to fall-arrest training, Fabricius notes that Height Wise also offers more advanced rope-access training to both private and corporate clients.

“Rope-access training is far more advanced than fall-arrest training as it equips trainees with the necessary skills to undertake rope-access-aided inspection, nondestructive testing and various maintenance tasks in difficult-to-reach and high-up locations,” she adds.

Fabricius further points out that being a freelance rope-access technician is a viable occupation in Africa, where skilled and qualified trainees can earn more than R1 500 a day.
She highlights that extensive training must first be undertaken.

Looking to the future, Fabricius notes that the rapid development of industries across Africa serves as a potential platform for growth in this sector.

“As industries continue to expand, so too will the demand for safety training. Height Wise has distinguished itself as a reputable leader in providing at-height safety solutions training and I believe that the company is in a prime position to gain significant market share and to establish new training academies across the continent,” she concludes.