An Overview

Working on windmills requires a safe procedure. In the safety industry this is called a “fall injury prevention system”. A ‘Fall injury prevention system’ means a system designed to arrest a person’s fall from one level to another and also minimise the risk of injuries or harm during the fall. ‘Anchorage’ means an anchorage point for a fall injury prevention system (i.e. the means for attaching a lanyard, lifeline or other components of the system to a secure point).

Fall injury prevention systems include:

  • restraint systems;
  • fall-arrest systems;
  • catch platforms;
  • scaffolding;
  • safety nets; and
  • safety mesh.

These are mentioned by way of theory only. In practice only Fall Restraint systems should be used – these only permit a fall of no more than 600mm. The Windmill Tower is a pyramid structure and it is not possible to provide a Fall Arrest system that would not result in greater injury due to falling into the structure. Nowhere on the Windmill can a person free-fall and be arrested in free space – every fall will be into the tower.

Fall Arrest systems should not be used. Use only Fall Restraint systems

A fall injury prevention system must be used where a person could fall three Metres or more from an edge at a workplace. For a Windmill, catch platforms, scaffolding, safety nets, and safety mesh are impractical additions to a Tower – the nature of the windmill and the wind that drives it, means that mobility around and through the tower are of greatest importance. The work area extends from the ground level right up to the Windmill Head, itself. The structure with its Girts and Braces means that there are unlimited anchoring points throughout the Tower (an anchor point must be able to withstand a load of 6 kN). Even on the Windmill Head itself there are a number of anchorage points – the Tailbone (close to the Main Casting), and the Work Ladder. These points will rotate with the Head, and are away from the rotating windwheel.

Key points on the use of fall injury prevention systems;

  • choosing the most appropriate fall injury prevention system is essential;
  • item used are “Personal safety equipment” and must suit individual needs and requirements;
  • the correct selection, installation and use of equipment is critical to their effectiveness when arresting a fall;
  • the fall injury prevention system and the anchorages must be designed, manufactured, constructed, selected or installed so as to be capable of withstanding the force applied to them as a result of a person’s fall;
  • fall injury prevention systems should be such that a person falling travels the shortest possible distance before having the fall arrested;
  • ensuring the lanyard and harness are actually connected to the fall injury prevention system is critical (rather than just wearing the equipment); and
  • fall-arrest equipment must not be used after it has arrested a fall until it has been inspected and certified as operational by a competent person.
  • Training in the selection and use of fall prevention systems is critical.

The Australian/New Zealand Standard, AS/NZS 1891 series, Industrial Fall-Arrest Systems and Devices should be consulted for further information on fall-arrest systems.

Consideration should be given to slip resistance surfaces or coatings that render the surface trip or slip free to eliminate, where possible, any chance of a slip or trip or fall.

Marking of fall-arrest systems with instructions and other relevant information

Relevant Australian/New Zealand Standards for personal fall-arrest and restraint equipment require that they be permanently marked or labeled to indicate their purpose, correct use and limitations together with other relevant information.

The aim of this marking and labeling is to reduce the incidence of misuse or misfitting of the equipment. It is important to maintain the legibility of these instructions through the life of the equipment.

Restraint Systems;

A restraint system comprises:

  • anchorage point(s) (Girts, Braces, Main Posts (above a Girt), Work Ladder (on Head) and Tailbone. The Ladder Rungs on the Tower Ladder must not be used as these are clipped into the Ladder Rails. Only bolted ladder rungs can be used.
  • a static line or restraint line of appropriate strength and length; and
  • a harness or restraint belt.

Its purpose is to limit movements from an anchorage point so that the user is totally restrained from reaching a position where either a free fall or limited free fall is possible.

A restraint system is suitable for use where:

  • the user can maintain secure footing without having to tension the restraint line and without the aid of any other hand hold or lateral support. When deciding whether secure footing can be maintained, consider:
  • the slope of the surface;
  • the supporting material type; and
  • the surface texture of the surface and whether it is likely to be wet, oily or otherwise slippery;
  • the static lines are fitted with an industrial shock absorber when required; and
  • the restraint system conforms with the Australian/New Zealand Standard, AS/NZS 1891 series.

Safety equipment consists of

  • Body Harness – the most suitable type includes side rings at the waist to attach a Pole strap, and a forward attachment to secure Climbing Lanyards.
  • Pole Strap – for securing within the Tower, or around the Stub Tower.
  • Climbing Lanyards

The equipment featured below is Sala and Protector gear.

AB119 2au Body Harness for TowersBody Harness

SALA420M 0002 HarnessBody Harness

Pole StrapPole Strap

Climbing hooksClimbing Lanyard (with Scaffold Hooks)