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August 2020

Heights hierarchy and radio head

13 Jul 2020, Learn, Prove Your Know How, Safety

Site Safe gets a number of questions from people in the construction and building sector via their ‘Ask an Advisor’ website page. Under Construction takes a look at two such questions that might be relevant to you and your crew

Working at Height

Question: What is the legal requirement in terms of the number of people working on a roof? Can one person be on any roof on their own without any ground support whether it is for maintenance or repairs, staying 1.8m away from the edge without protection?

Site Safe’s advisor says: There is no regulation for the number of people working on a roof at one time. As roof work means working at height it is considered a high-risk situation. This means the legal requirement is that the Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBU) needs to conduct a risk assessment and apply the hierarchy of controls based on the outcomes of the assessment. The implementation of a “voluntary 1.8m exclusion zone” is not an adequate control in any height situation, regardless of the number of workers. This would be an administrative control and is only suitable for supporting other controls (higher up the control hierarchy).

The law requires that where high risk cannot be eliminated, it must be minimised through one or a combination of:

  • Substitution.
  • Isolation.
  • Engineered controls.

For more information on the use of scaffolds, check out the scaffolds page under the Practical Advice section of the Site Safe website.

Radio muffs

Question: I have been approached by my team around the use of ear protection (muffs) that are fitted with radios. What are the laws around these and their use in a workplace?

Site Safe’s advisor says: There are no laws regarding hearing protection; these are covered by standards and practice guidelines. Good practice is that the ear protection must reduce the noise to an acceptable level. This means they must be manufactured to an acceptable industry standard and must meet the noise reduction requirements. If fitted with radios, then they should not be worn where the radio would interfere with critical communications (verbal communication, alarms, audio alerts, etc).

Ask an Advisor

If you have a non-urgent health and safety query, get in touch with Site Safe online and ‘ask an advisor’.

Site Safe is a not-for-profit, membership-based organisation that supports a culture of health and safety in New Zealand construction. For more information go to: www.sitesafe.org.nz


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