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What is the importance of the Working at Heights (WAH) tab in the Permit to Work (PTW), in OHS Online?

A great question! The WAH tab of the PTW must be selected whenever any part of the work being done by the contractor requires work to be done at height. Working at heights is any type of work performed from a place where, if precautions are not put into place, a person could fall a distance and injure themselves or worse. This type of work is considered 'high risk' because falls from height are one of the biggest causes of fatalities and major injuries in the workplace.

Common causes of accidents when working at height Roof work is considered one of the most common causes of workplace injuries and deaths. Often roofs need to be repaired or cleaned and through this work, there is a high likelihood of persons falling from roofs or falling through fragile roofs. Common roof areas likely to be fragile include: 
1. roof lights 
2. liner panels on built-up sheeted roofs 
3. non-reinforced fire cement sheets. 
4. corroded metal sheets 
5. glass and wired glass 
6. chipboard which has degraded and rotted 
7. slates and tiles

Considering height work Before any work at height is under taken the necessity of it being done should be considered first, using the following steps: 
1. If it is reasonably possible, avoid working at height. 
2. If working at height cannot be avoided, minimise the risk of falls by working from an existing place of work which is already safe or use the right type of equipment for the type of hight work being done. 
3. Minimise the distance and consequences of the fall by using the right type of equipment, where the risk cannot be eliminated.

Where working at height has to take place, consider the following aspects to minimise the associated risks: 
1. Wherever possible, do as much work as possible from the ground. 
2. Ensure persons are able to get safely to and from their position working at height. 
3. Ensure any equipment used is suitable, stable and strong enough to do the job. Any equipment used must be maintained in good condition and checked regularly. 
4. Provide protection from falling objects; ensure tools and stored equipment are secured. 
5. Take precautions when working on or near fragile surfaces. 
6. Consider any emergency evacuation or rescue procedures which might need to be in place.

The WAH tab helps to ensure that formal checks are made and associated safety precautions are taken for any height work, in order to ensure the work is conducted under safe working conditions. Through these measures, height work hazards and precautions are documented and recorded, prior to height work taking place.