Q&A: 7 steps for successful inspections

7 steps for successful inspections

The following are the questions and answers provided after our September 2014 webinar on height safety inspections. The responses offered are provided by Julian Wilson, NATA and Carl Sachs, Workplace Access & Safety and are general in nature. For advice on your specific situation, please contact us to speak to a specialist height safety consultant.

Couldn’t make it to the “7 steps to inspection success” webinar with NATA? Simply click here and you can hear NATA inspection section manager Julian Wilson and Workplace Access & Safety’s Carl Sachs explain the practical steps to getting value for money from your inspector.

Q. Does a manual need to be sighted with each inspection?

Yes it needs to be sighted. The manual contains specific instructions relating to compliance. If you don’t have one then work with the inspection body, and get the information from the manufacturer. Check how it was installed, that it was compliant when it was installed. Check for testing data and maintenance/testing requirements. It’s mandatory to have the documentation because fall prevention equipment is regarded as “plant”, and is lifesaving equipment.

Q. Can other fixed structural features such as “I” beams be given a classification as a fall arrest anchor point?

If the attachment point satisfies all the testing, manufacturing and structural requirements of anchorage points (AS/NZS 5532), and you’ve spoken with the building engineers designers who take into account the dynamic loading, then it’s ok to use. An “I” beam may have adequate strength, but it depends on how the anchor is attached as it may pull out if forces are not considered, compromising the building or structure and anyone attached to the anchor. The forces exerted on the structure are considerable; 15kN for one person and 21kN for 2 people.

Q. How often should ladders be checked and by whom?

Ladders should be checked at least annually, and more frequently depending on the environment and use. Regulations say this must be done by a competent person, which in practice means an inspection body that has inspectors with the training, qualifications, experience, checklists, product knowledge and the specific skills.

Q. Why should I use a NATA inspector?

You should consider a NATA accredited inspection body because they have demonstrated competency and proven systems to the NATA assessment team that involves technical experts. It has been demonstrated to this team of technical experts that the organization has the systems, processes and people to produce a reliable result.

Q. Qualification of inspectors to carry our quarterly inspections? Would a competent person with understanding [formal training] of WH&S legislation [Act, Regulations, Codes of Practice & relevant Australian Standards] plus training in working at heights (eg high risk work licence for dogger and work platform over 11M ) be classed as sufficient competency for inspector?

The training and knowledge of the inspector needs to be relevant to the products (E.g. Anchors or ladders). You should check if the generalist training you’ve identified is relevant to the specific products. Check it out and verify it.

Q. Everyone says their equipment complies. How can I be sure?

Relying on a third party accreditation scheme such as StandardsMark™ will assist, and can give you independent assurance that the products comply.

Q. Suggested Resources for Inspections?

The technical standards for the products are a good resource (E.g. AS1657, AS/NZS 5532, AS/NZS 1891 etc.). Manufacturer’s installation and technical detail are important for specific product.  The organisation providing the inspection should work to ISO17020, which is the international standard for inspection bodies. There is a range of personal qualifications that are also useful, in particular the accreditation of the inspectors by the manufacturers.

Q. If the roof structure is of an unknown quality / integrity, how can we, as a business owner, ensure the initial inspection (no-one has been up there before) is a safe workplace for the person conducting the inspection?

The inspection body needs to have a safe work plan for accessing the area. Sometimes this includes temporary access equipment to ensure that they conduct the inspection safely.

Q. What are the inspections required for emergency/rescue preparedness and rescue equipment?

The emergency rescue plan should be reviewed. The rescue equipment (E.g. Ropes, harnesses etc.) should be inspected to the relevant standards and manufacturers requirements.

Q. How do I check an inspector is competent?

Ask for relevant qualifications, familiarity with the specific equipment and standards, training and experience in the industry. Unfortunately there aren’t any formal qualifications covering fall prevention equipment, so using a NATA accredited inspection body makes good sense.

Q. What is the focus on temporary solutions, especially in the domestic housing industry?

Check out the Code of Practice for managing the risk of falls in your state or territory.

Q. Request address a brief action plan for worksite inspections with specific reference to offshore locations

Suggest you engage an expert in this area. You could extract from wider checklist and plans that are published by bodies engaged in inspection of offshore facilities.

Q. What are the main things to consider before instructing a contractor to clean the external windows above 3 meters?

Following a recent fall by an abseiler cleaning windows in Sydney, WAHA published a safety alert. Download it at this link. This details 9 points for you to consider.

Q. What is the required competency for inspection of equipment?

Ask for relevant qualifications, familiarity with the specific equipment and standards, training and experience in the industry. Unfortunately there aren’t any formal qualifications covering fall prevention equipment, so using a NATA accredited inspection body makes good sense.

Q. Can we get copies of the checklists that we spoke about?

These are very technical checklists that our inspectors use. What might be more useful is this list which helps to prepare for an inspection. Click here.

The above information is supplied as guidance material only and does not constitute legal or specific health and safety advice.