What is the difference between a recertification inspection and a height safety audit?

Technician taking photographs as part of a compliance inspection.

Recertification inspections (sometimes called compliance inspections) and height safety audits are both ways to ensure your fall protection system is compliant, however there are significant differences between the two that PCBUs should be aware of.

Undertaking work at heights is an inherently dangerous activity. While it is always best not to have to work at heights, in many cases it is unavoidable. Having a compliant fall protection or height safety system is a core component of a holistic approach to safety.

Compliance (recertification) inspections and height safety audits are two of the main ways that a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) can ensure that their building is meeting the requirements of workplace health and safety legislation and regulation. But what are they, and when do you need one?

What is a recertification inspection?

A recertification inspection is a regular check of your existing height safety system to ensure that it is in good working order, is compliant with Australian standards, and that there are no irregularities or areas where the system’s integrity may be compromised.

These inspections should be undertaken at least annually, however if the system is frequently used or in an environment where corrosion or damage is likely to occur then more regular inspections may be required.

With height safety systems often located on roofs – out of sight and out of mind – it is quite easy for damage to go unnoticed. Damaged systems may not offer a worker adequate protection in the event of a fall.

During a recertification, an inspector attends site and ensures all aspects of the existing installed system are compliant with the relevant standards, in good working order, and that the system was installed to Australian standards as well as manufacturer installation procedures.

In the event the system is found to be non-compliant, a report is prepared outlining the issues found and providing recommended repairs or upgrades that should be completed to make the system compliant.

What is a height safety audit?

At first glance, it might seem that a height safety audit is similar to a recertification inspection. However, that is not the case.

A full height safety audit takes things further, looking at the existing system not just in terms of its physical integrity, but how it works with safe access over the rest of the building, and how it aligns with the PCBU’s responsibilities under the relevant workplace health and safety acts currently in force.

During the audit, an experienced height safety technician inspects your entire building, internally and externally, and undertakes a thorough inspection of any installed fall protection systems or components as well as areas where fall risks may exist but are currently without a height safety system in place.

The audit goes further than a compliance inspection, looking at existing systems as well as areas where there is no system, but one would be required.

The audit report, completed after the inspection, also includes risk ratings calculated for both the existing system, and updated ratings after any proposed rectification works are completed. This is an easy reference for site owners and PCBUs to see how having a compliant safety system can assist in protecting workers.

I don’t know what is on my roof

The team at HSE often comes across cases where a site manager, facility manager, building owner or other PCBU is unaware of the status of their installed safety system, or even if they have one.

In that case, getting a full height safety audit will assist them in meeting their obligations to provide a safe workplace. The audit will tell you what protection is already in place at your site, and identify areas where improvements are required as well as the severity of any deficiencies.

Solving the safety puzzle

Having a compliant height safety system is only one part of the safety puzzle. Ensuring that everyone in involved in high-risk work has the skills, equipment and procedures to complete their work safely is required to form a holistic safety system.

Height Safety Engineers are your partners in protecting people. Our team are the experts in providing fully compliant and holistic safety solutions for those undertaking high risk work. Call 1300 884 978 or email enquiries@heightsafety.net to discuss your safety needs with us today.

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