15 May, 2016, 12:00 am
I refer to a photograph of the Education Minister (FT 09/05/16) inspecting the work carried out by the Indonesian military at QVS and exposed breaches of the safety issues.
It was noted the bamboo scaffolding, which was being used for work at an elevated height, was secured together with ropes and workers were not using a safety harness.
This type of the structure needs to be approved by engineers before it is used. Scaffolding made of metal is more safe as safety approvals and certification are issued by the manufacturer and conforms to certain standards that are recognised by the laws of Fiji.
Before work is done at an elevated height, there needs to be a risk assessment by a competent person where all the hazards and the risk are identified and the appropriate action taken – controlled or eliminated.
Safety equipment such as a fall arresting devices must be used and the entire team to be briefed on the task at hand before a permit to work at heights is issued.
For the support platform, a trestle ladder must have certain weight holding capacities and I believe the bamboo structure does not conform to such standards.
The scaffolding must have a firm footing and effectively secured in a position to prevent slipping and sideways movement.
The repair and rebuilding work is being done by personnel from a foreign military and they must work within the health and safety laws and other safety associated legislation of Fiji. Such work must be monitored by the OHS inspectors to eliminate any injuries at the workplace.
The honourable minister was also in breach of safety standards as he had failed to wear a hard hat at a construction site.
There is an immediate need for us nationally to adhere to safety laws in order to ensure risks are eliminated from our workplaces so they are hazard free.