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OH&S gurus ban Aussie firefighters from climbing ladders & using power saws

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Sorry Peppa!  Our limit is 2 metres.

This has to be read (and when I get the video from the Senate seen) to be believed!

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Firefighters at Australia’s airports have been banned from climbing ladders more than 2-metres high in training because of the risk of falling.

In a Senate Estimates hearing that had some senators in stitches, Airservices Australia chief fire officer Glenn Wood confirmed the training ban, even though firefighters could be required to use much higher ladders in an aircraft emergency.

“We take the safety of our people very seriously and there is a risk of fall from height,” Mr Wood told the Committee for Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport.

“We’ve examined that issue and we’ve determined that at this time we will restrict our firefighters from climbing up a ladder greater than 2m so they can practice the necessary skills while we form a working group to look at alternatives.”

He went on to add “firefighters can work with ladders, they just can’t climb ladders in that sense of more than 2m”.

Committee chairman Barry O’Sullivan responded “seriously, you need to start that answer again”, to guffaws from the rest of the panel.

“You may laugh Senator but it’s a serious thing,” said Mr Wood.

Senator O’Sullivan then questioned why it was okay to use a ladder of more than 2m in an “emergency” such as when a plane was on fire, in a situation considerably more stressful than in training.

Airservices Australia chief Jason Harfield said they were in the process of exploring safer alternatives such as harnesses for firefighters.

The committee also heard power saws had been removed from firefighters’ kit, because of the safety risk.

Mr Wood said there was a civil aviation requirement to have a power saw but the regulator had been informed of the decision to remove it for the “safety of staff”.

“We’ve looked at that piece of equipment and it’s out of date and not fit for purpose and it presents a significant safety hazard for our people,” he said.

“We’ve got arrangements in place with the local fire service to bring their rescue saw (in the event of an emergency).”

He said the “jaws of life” could do some of the work of a power saw, but not all.

“There is work underway to find an appropriate alternative that is more fit for purpose,” Mr Wood told the committee.