The prospect of working at heights covers many different industries. Whilst some professions have bigger risk than others, it’s important to be safe no matter what kind of height you might be facing. Taking precautions before working at height can save lives and prevent serious and life-threatening injuries, so being prepared in your line of work is incredibly important.
Working at height is a term used for any type of work that involves being above or below ground, where a risk of falling could occur. Working at height injuries can cause businesses to lose time and money, so before you’re about to make a climb, assess the situation to make sure that your actions are 100% necessary for yourself and those around you.
Planning and Assessing
Before attempting to work at height, the first thing you should do it assess the dangers that might occur. If you are working on your own and you need someone to hold a ladder, the best course of action would be to wait until someone can help you, rather than attempting to work alone. It’s always better to do get a job done safely, rather than quickly without consideration.
You might need to take environmental factors into account when planning and assessing how you will work at height. For example, if it’s raining or you’re on a slippery surface – you are putting yourself at further risk of injury. Carrying out a risk assessment before the job you’re working on can help assist you to make the correct and safe decision. A method statement of your current work task is also a good idea; it can help you plan the safest actions by communicating the risks and how you can achieve the safest outcomes.
Using the Correct Equipment
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) will help protect employees against health and safety dangers at work. The items that often need to be worn in high-risk environments include safety helmets, high visibility clothing, strong footwear, and harnesses.
If you’re working at a height, it’s essential to protect your head by wearing a hard hat if you happen to fall. It’s essential to use guard rails; having this equipment can be a matter of life or death – these support the person at height and can break their fall. Another implementation could be to use a net around the area to break someone’s fall.
Make sure to inspect and assess your safety equipment regularly to make sure it’s acceptable – doing this before you start a job could even save a life.
Safety Whilst at Height
Once you have assessed the area and carried out risk assessments and method statements – it’s time to start working at height.
Others can also become injured around you whilst you’re working at height. Preventing this sometimes just takes common sense, but it’s easy to forget simple procedures at the moment. Falling objects are extremely dangerous – you can reduce this risk in the following ways:
- Do not stack any heavy materials close to an edge – especially unprotected edges
- Whilst on scaffolding, close any gaps with wood to ensure that material cannot fall through
- Take care whilst mounting and dismounting ladders – avoid carrying heavy materials up and down
- Make sure you have guardrails in place to prevent falling from edges
Working Alone At Height
Working alone increases a workers’ risk because they are exposed to a variety of risks that could be prevented or alleviated if a co-worker were working with them. Lone Workers especially working at height are more vulnerable to accidents, and if they get injured, it is more difficult to ask for help. Employees need to be especially aware of their surroundings and they should be trained in how to operate in these settings along with a regular check-in procedure at set intervals to their employer using a program such as SafetyLine Lone Worker that offers features such as Fall Detection and Man Down.
Fall Detection accidents caused by slips or falls may leave a Worker unable to call for help. With Fall Detection enabled, the Worker’s phone is able to detect a sudden impact and trigger a Panic Emergency. This allows Workers to get help more quickly without needing to wait for a Check-in timer to expire. All a worker has to do is have their phone in their pocket. This improved Motion Feature is great for Workers who are at risk of trips, slips, and falls. For example, if a Worker up on a ladder falls, their device will detect an impact and send an alert immediately.
With the Man Down Detection feature enabled on SafetyLine, your Worker’s phone will be able to detect a period of no motion. After a set period of time, the device will trigger a Panic Emergency which prompts the Worker’s Monitor to respond accordingly. For example, if a Worker is running to meet a client and suffers a heart attack, our Man Down feature will detect no motion and immediately send an Emergency alert.
A knowledgeable workforce is a safe workforce. Training is not only required by law, but regular, refreshment training sessions will keep employees up to date with any changes as there’s always more to learn. It can be easy to forget simple ‘common sense’ safety procedures when you work on a construction site every day – so training is something worth doing over and over.
Start by choosing an accredited Working at a Height Training course in your area. The core topics from these courses should cover how to wear the correct PPE, safe ladder assent and decent, how to access ways and the safe use of height lanyards. A certain amount of theory should be applied within training to make sure employees have a thorough understanding of why the safety elements are in place.
The most construction fatalities occur from falls whilst working at height. Taking proactive steps to reduce the chances of this happening should be a top priority for any industry in which a fall can cause possible harm.
About the Guest Author:
Alice Mansley is an SEO and Content Marketing Assistant for The Digital Marketing Partners – a specialist digital marketing agency that blends technical, marketing and commercial insights with an absolute focus on results. Throughout her time working in marketing, she has gained an insight into health and safety and the construction industry.