Guardrail type barricades do prevent personnel falling through them so are suitable to be placed close to an otherwise unprotected edge. This control does not rely on personnel following site rules. Under the hierarchy of safety controls it is a ‘passive’ level 2 fall prevention control. Passive type barricades are very effective in preventing personnel falling through them. Guardrail type barricades need to be designed to take the live loads specified in AS 1657.
Security type fencing is effective in keeping unauthorized persons out of construction areas and are now used more frequently where there are security issues and the safety of the public (children in
particular) may be compromised on entering the construction site. However, security fencing needs to be adequately braced in areas subject to vandalism otherwise it may be pushed over.
In summary ‘Soft’ barricades such as Plastic Webbing and Bunting Flags are low level controls under the hierarchy of controls applicable to the prevention of falls > 2 metres. A higher level of control such as ‘Hard’ barricades acting as guardrail should be used where they are practicable to comply with the WorkSafe Compliance Code for the Prevention of Falls in General Construction 2008. An example of where a ‘Soft’ control should not be used is on bridge abutments where personnel are required to work closer then two metres to a steep batter and could fall through the barricade. A level 2 control in the form of a guardrail would be appropriate in this circumstance designed to accommodate AS1657 design loadings.