An integral part of construction work is the ability to work at heights. While humans may not have the ability to fly, we have achieved this using technologies like Mast Climbing Platforms, Gondolas or even cranes. However, this is not without risk as falls from heights are one of the major causes for workplace fatalities (check out our Apply Workplace Safety and Health In Construction Sites course), contributing to more than a third of workplace fatalities every year. Most fall-related fatalities at work are caused mainly by falling from heights, slips and trips-and-fall accident types. While a good portion of workplace fatalities caused by falls from heights are from other sectors, high-risk industries like the construction sector contribute to the bulk of such fatal falls.
To address concerns regarding workplace fatalities caused by falls, the BCA has pushed for proper work at height training before workers are allowed to work at heights. The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and WSH Council also formed the National Work at Heights Safety Taskforce in 2009 to address concerns of workplace falls from height. The Taskforce is led by Mr Chow Yew Yuen, CEO, Keppel Offshore and Marine Ltd, with members from various stakeholder groups, including the government, industry and suppliers. It aims to make a national effort to involve all stakeholders to help reduce the number of workplace fatalities caused by falls from height.
The taskforce has made 3 key recommendations based on its Safety Analysis Review of Work at Height which are:.
- Building strong capabilities
- Provide practical assistance
- Implement Fall prevention Plan
- Developing national competency
- outreach and education,
- certification and recognition
- disseminate information and improve hazard communication.
- strategic intervention
- legislation review (WAH Regulations) and extending enforcement reach
To provide certification and recognition, the BCA have developed training courses regarding operations in work at height such as Suspended Scaffold (Gondola) and Mast Climbing Platform – SEC(K) (MCWP). These courses help to educate construction workers of proper processes when working at heights as well as ensure that they are well prepared before any work at height is done to prevent accidents due to inadequate protection or preparedness which may lead to workplace fatalities.
In addition, these courses and their certificates are applicable in applying for the Multi-Skilling Scheme the BCA announced which allows any worker skilled in these to potentially become a “Higher Skilled” R1 worker meaning that they also be able to work for up to 26 years instead of the usual 14. Employers of “Higher Skilled” R1 workers also benefit greatly from this as they have to pay a smaller levy when deploying these construction workers on-site.
One of the places where Multi-Skill SEC(K) courses for suspended scaffolding are recognised in the Multi-Skilling Scheme which offers Gondola is Global Training Services. During the course one will have to learn theories such as inspection & maintenance of gondolas, Workplace Safety & Health, Construction Productivity amongst other important areas of knowledge.
A student of the course must also undergo practical training for things such as Pre-operation and Safety Checks, Cradle Body Assembly and positioning of Gondolas, Gondola Installation, Startup/Test runs and Dismantling of Gondolas amongst other important skills to have when working with Gondolas. To become certified, the student will need to pass a written and practical exam and maintain an attendance of at least 75%. After which they will be considered to have completed the course and be awarded a Certificate/Result Slip endorsed by BCA which will be needed when applying for any schemes.