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What is Fall Protection?

The Institute for Work at HeightNewsWhat is Fall Protection?
13 September 2017 Posted by MFPBAdmin News

Construction Regulations 2014 define a fall risk as ‘any potential exposure to falling either FROM, OFF or INTO’. Fall protection is thus required for ALL workers who work in elevated positions; anything above the nearest safe surface or water, above a surface or thing that could cause injury if the worker were to fall, or above an open pit, tank or vat containing a hazardous substance. Fall protection includes a harness, net, rope, body belt, structure or other equipment and/or device that will restrain a worker who is at risk of falling or stop a worker who has fallen.

The use of fall protection equipment is found in general construction, residential construction, road construction, utility, oil and gas, mining, maritime, manufacturing, some emergency services sectors and municipality industries. Maintenance of tools, equipment and machinery in the health care, service, transportation and fish processing industries also require the use of fall protection systems and procedures to keep workers safe while conducting maintenance operations. Examples of work activities include, but are not limited to scaffolding, roofing, painting, driving heavy equipment that requires operators to stand, forestry operations including tree trimming, maintenance of machinery and equipment, etc. Work areas and conditions that require fall protection includes, but are not limited to balconies, floor openings, wall or window openings, walkways, excavations and trenches, confined spaces, telecoms, etc.

Who is responsible for Fall Protection?
Anyone who uses fall protection equipment as a part of their job is responsible for recognizing, evaluating and controlling fall hazards. This includes employers, supervisors, contractors and workers, including young workers and those about to enter or return to the work force.
Who needs to be trained and by whom?
Any worker who uses fall protection is required to be “COMPETENT”. A competent person is defined by the Construction Regulation (2014) as a person who;
  • a) Has in respect of the work or task to be performed the required knowledge, training and experience and, where applicable, qualifications, specific to that work or task: Provided that where appropriate qualifications and training are registered in terms of the provisions of the National Qualifications Framework Act (NQF), 2000 (Act No 67 of 2000), those qualifications and that training must be regarded as the required qualifications and training; and
  • b) Is familiar with the Act and with the applicable regulations under the Act.

Fall Protection training, also referred to as “Working at Height Training’, could be focused on either Fall Arrest, Fall Prevention or Fall Restraint, depending on the work area or condition the person will be working.

There are registered training standards for fall protection available on the NQF as well as approved standards recognised by the IWH Prof Body, which is the only recognised training to be acknowledged for fall protection. These training standards should be trained by accredited training providers and/or recognised by the IWH PB.

Training which is not quality assured by approved bodies such as SETA ETQA’s, AQP’s and Professional Bodies, cannot be accepted, as no proof of quality assurance of the training, and thus inclusion of the trained person on SAQA’s National Learner Record Database of competent persons, would be available without these.

Competent persons will need solid proof from either the relevant SETA ETQA or AQP or the Professional Body, that he/she is competent for it to be accepted in the industry. Such proof will either be in the format of a STATEMENT OF RESULTS issued by the relevant SETA ETQA of AQP or ‘Permit to Operate’ issued by the IWH Professional Body.

The IWH Prof Body has been tasked by SAQA to confer designations upon COMPETENT persons working at height. The IWH PB also ensures that employees working at height are staying safe by checking on their skills and developing these employees on a continuous basis, thus protecting the employer, employee and industry at large.

I already have been trained and have a Certificate from an accredited training provider. Will I have to do the training again?

If you have a have been trained by an accredited training provider and you have proof that they have uploaded you to SAQA’s NLRD (i.e., you have a Statements of Results (SOR) issued by the relevant SETA ETQA, or AQP), it will be recognized by the IWH PB for us to register you as current and competent to work safe in protecting yourself in a fall risk environment. The IWH PB will be able to use this SOR to register you and issue you a “permit to operate’ for the duration of 3 years. If you have been trained, more than 3 years ago, you can still submit your SOR, but you will have to go for re-fresher training or a re-assessment to ensure that you are still medically fit and able to perform safe practices when working at height. All training, re-fresher training and assessments will only be accepted if it has been conducted by one of the IWH PB’s recognised training providers. Refer to the IWH PBs website for a list of our recognised training providers.

I did fall protection training with a Non-IWH PB recognised training Provider and there is an expiry Date On my certificate?

Training providers are not allowed to issue you a SAQA registered qualification/unit standard with an expiry date on it. Your qualification can never expire, but your recognition as competent and fit for duty to work at height could be in question after a period of time. People become complacent, or they could be medically unfit for the job at hand, regulations and legislation could change and equipment could be outdated – therefore a body such as the IWH PB has been registered by SAQA to ensure the continuous development and recognition of such persons in the work at height industry. The IWH PB therefore register competent persons for a period of 3 years by issuing a ‘license to operate’, after which they have to proof to the industry that they are still medically fit, know the latest legislation and regulations, are aware of the latest equipment and can still perform his/her duties safe.

Which regulations and legislation guides us with regard to competency, safety and training on fall protection?

The Construction Regulations 2014, Occupational Health and Safety Act, (Act 85 of 1993) and the NQF Act, (Act 67 of 2008).

I want to be trained in fall protection (working at height) and registered with the IWH PB. What should i do?

Please approach any of our listed IWH PB recognised training providers as per our website (under training providers). They will train you according to the correct standards and register you with the IWH PB. The IWH PB will then issue you a Certificate and an ID card (Permit/License to operate) which will be valid for a period of 3 years.

How long is the training for Fall Protection?

The IWH PB recognised training provider will advise you if you need fall prevention, fall arrest or advance fall arrest and rescue training according to the needs as specified by the job you are going to perform. Training will take anything between 1 to 10 days depending on the requirements of the job at hand.

Will I have to redo the same training every 3 years?

Your Statement of results for the training completed will never expire. The renewal of the designation though, will include a re-assessment, CPD activities, for which you will gain CPD points. You will only have to do some refresher training, should there have been changes in legislation or regulations or at the discretion of the training provider based on the entry requirements for renewal. As part of the IWH PB, we insist in developing registered members further and therefore it is recommended you attend CPD (Continuing Professional Development) activities, such as workshops, seminars, etc. This can just benefit you in the long run. You should not however be re-trained on the same old training every 3 years. It is the duty of the recognised training providers to develop you further.

Who should I contact if I have any questions relating fall protection and fall protection training?

Any questions relating to fall protection and fall protection training can be directed to the IWH PB by calling (011) 450 1804 /450 2896 or email info@ifwh.co.za or info@profbody.co.za.