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Hi, I am looking for any risk assessment with regards to loading and unloading cradles on a counterweight system, We have one but have been told that the loader should be wearing a harness to minimise the risk of falling into the fly frame. I have never heard of this happening and have never seen this system being used, has anyone? I
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Ok the first question should be “who?” Said that should be included - risk assessments should be written by suitably competent people who make informed decisions about actual risks and problems rather than responding to the crazy ideas complete strangers come up with so how much weight your give to this suggestion should begin with the validity of the person asking it
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I agree, it was a recommendation by the comp[any brought in to check the system for its annual inspection. I don't give a lot of weight to their findings, but as things go I have to try to prove my point, preferably by example.

Ok the first question should be "who?" Said that should be included - risk assessments should be written by suitably competent people who make informed decisions about actual risks and problems rather than responding to the crazy ideas complete strangers come up with so how much weight your give to this suggestion should begin with the validity of the person asking it

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If they were serious then surely they themselves wore harnesses working on the system and provided you with a copy of their RA? Where in their written report does it tell you exactly what type of harness to use, how to use it and where on this newly certified safe system to attach it?

 

If they haven't done any of that I suggest you get your bosses to call and ask why they only did half a job and did it contrary to their own advice.

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I don't have a specific fly gallery type risk assessment - it's covered within another but I pulled out the only sentences that would seem to apply to what we do.

 

 

All equipment used for the suspension of scenic items and other material that may be flown shall be safe for use by virtue of strength and suitability.

All items shall be compliant with the requirements of the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998

Competent and qualified personnel will be engaged to work on the installation and operation of the flying equipment

Equipment shall be provided and maintained i.e. suitable flying bars and associated equipment

Production Company advised on the load capabilities of the theatre (including the SWL of fly bars and the location of fixed load points in the roof)

Provision of competent staff to oversee the operation of fly’s and the installation of lifting equipment

Inspections of all house lifting equipment and lift assemblies and necessary maintenance carried out

System in place to prevent unauthorised access to the flying system, control etc

 

Nothing whatsoever about harnesses - although if the flys were of a strange design so people could perhaps fall, as in the grid where there could be open voids, then a harness requirement could make sense?

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One venue I cassy at has a requirement to wear a harness whilst on the loading gallery. It's an unprotected edge with a significant drop; considering the work carried out there I suspect it would be difficult to risk assess and arrive at a different conclusion. There's a tensioned steel cable running the length of the gallery on to which to clip.
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Thanks for the replies, I am surprised to hear that a harness is used in one venue as it seems to open up a whole lot of other problems.

Although it seems to me that this particular case is nothing directly to do with counterweight flying, just that the person is in a precarious position while loading and unloading weights. So it is a fall hazard rather than a runaway hazard.

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What other problems do you envisage?

 

Several things immediately spring to my mind..

 

PPE needs to be issued, maintained and inspected. Using it correctly requires training and competent supervision. Anchor points should be fit for purpose, which is not trivial if they're to meet the required standard for fall-arrest and a rescue plan (and appropriate kit) may be needed. (Which in turn requires more training.) If the harness is to be used as 'work restraint' does it allow sufficient freedom of movement to do the job efficiently, or does it introduce new problems as far as manual handling is concerned (or exacerbate current ones)?

 

The use of PPE sits at the bottom of the so-called "hierarchy of controls" and in most cases it really should be pretty much the last resort when it comes to controlling the risk of falls from height. Top of the list for addressing an "unprotected edge with a significant drop" would be to take it away, perhaps through the use of guard rails, cages, kick boards etc.

 

If there really is a risk of falling from the loading gallery, PPE is not the answer until other solutions have been carefully explored and ruled out as genuinely impractical.

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I agree, it was a recommendation by the comp[any brought in to check the system for its annual inspection. I don't give a lot of weight to their findings, but as things go I have to try to prove my point, preferably by example.

Ok the first question should be "who?" Said that should be included - risk assessments should be written by suitably competent people who make informed decisions about actual risks and problems rather than responding to the crazy ideas complete strangers come up with so how much weight your give to this suggestion should begin with the validity of the person asking it

 

It's worth remembering in these circumstances that you can write a RA that satisfies yourself and your venue that such a precaution is not required or get a second opinion from another firm that does not mention such things. But that does not magic away the report from the first inspection company. That report becomes part of the history of the system and, in the case of an accident resulting from failure to implement such a precaution, could be used against you.

 

 

 

 

 

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It's worth remembering in these circumstances that you can write a RA that satisfies yourself and your venue that such a precaution is not required or get a second opinion from another firm that does not mention such things. But that does not magic away the report from the first inspection company. That report becomes part of the history of the system and, in the case of an accident resulting from failure to implement such a precaution, could be used against you.

I don't recall the OP saying anything about this recommendation being given in writing??

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I've always thought that risk assessment is something everyone does throughout their lives. Using your current skills and knowledge levels you set your own safe limits. we then started formalising it in a sensible attempt to minimise the risk. It takes a great deal of thought to determine somebody else's risk assessment is over zealous or far too casual. If you visit a venue that requires PPE equipment, then only the foolish try to get around their rules.

 

The key element in all discussions is the "we have been told......" issue. If that person is in a position of authority - then it's their call. However, often the person saying this to you may have got it wrong, so you need to just check the rules and follow them. My own venue has no clue whatsoever about anything - rules wise. Over a thousand pounds worth of PPE sits in a box in the roof, long out of date. They were told to buy it, so they did. However, nobody told them how to use it, when to use it, or what it's purpose actually was. They have not risk assessments of any kind for the theatre. They have no regular and verified system to have their flying systems serviced and checked, and not even a workable evacuation plan. Luckily, I have - and I make sure that if it came down to a Hillsborough moment, everyone would be as safe and protected as they can be. Not even really part of my job. It's funny that after one visit from a fire expert, a load of fire safety action notices appeared all over the place. Two years later, I discovered that the repeated mentions of the Technical Manager on the notice was actually me! I assumed it related to a proper full time employee - the guy with the keys, and a set of screwdrivers, but he told me it was me. Amazing.

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Kind of covered the points I would have made, people seem to forget that PPE should be last resort.

What other problems do you envisage?

 

Several things immediately spring to my mind..

 

PPE needs to be issued, maintained and inspected. Using it correctly requires training and competent supervision. Anchor points should be fit for purpose, which is not trivial if they're to meet the required standard for fall-arrest and a rescue plan (and appropriate kit) may be needed. (Which in turn requires more training.) If the harness is to be used as 'work restraint' does it allow sufficient freedom of movement to do the job efficiently, or does it introduce new problems as far as manual handling is concerned (or exacerbate current ones)?

 

The use of PPE sits at the bottom of the so-called "hierarchy of controls" and in most cases it really should be pretty much the last resort when it comes to controlling the risk of falls from height. Top of the list for addressing an "unprotected edge with a significant drop" would be to take it away, perhaps through the use of guard rails, cages, kick boards etc.

 

If there really is a risk of falling from the loading gallery, PPE is not the answer until other solutions have been carefully explored and ruled out as genuinely impractical.

 

 

 

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It's worth remembering in these circumstances that you can write a RA that satisfies yourself and your venue that such a precaution is not required or get a second opinion from another firm that does not mention such things. But that does not magic away the report from the first inspection company. That report becomes part of the history of the system and, in the case of an accident resulting from failure to implement such a precaution, could be used against you.

I don't recall the OP saying anything about this recommendation being given in writing??

 

 

Agreed - I just assumed it was more than a sort of off-hand remark.

 

 

 

 

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