Working At Height
Working at height comes with a lot of associated risks. Whether it’s a dropped tool that causes damage to equipment, or a more serious injury or fatality, you must be adequately equipped to prevent any unnecessary hazards.
Working at height is dangerous, even with measures in place to protect people on site. Always take care, and implement the following health and safety procedures to help keep you, your employees, and any members of the public safe.
Implementing Health And Safety Procedures
A health and safety policy sets out the general approach to health and safety. It explains how an employer will manage health and safety arrangements in relation to your workplace.
Having a health and safety policy in place is vital to any company, no matter how many employees you have. It should clearly outline all of the health and safety arrangements your company is taking.
For working at height in particular, this should be tailored to directly mention and deal with its associated risks, like requiring the use of harnesses or other personal protective equipment. Optimum Safety has an affordable eLearning course on the dangers of working at height which could be useful for you or your employees.
Method Statements/Safe Systems Of Work
A method statement – or safe system of work – is a document that describes how to complete a task safely. It is essentially a set of instructions for the work that is going to be undertaken on-site or in a business setting, including what must be done and what should be avoided.
For example, working at height is likely to include dangers from falls or drops. A method statement might outline health and safety information, as well as specific instructions on how the work should take place and the equipment for working at height that is going to be used.
A method statement is a crucial tool in recording the potential hazards of working at height, and ensuring that the necessary precautions are communicated to all involved. Every employee should be made aware of both. This will lead to a naturally safer workplace.
Precautions That Should Be Taken:
- All operatives working at height must be competently trained in working at height and for any equipment they may be using.
- Use suitable and stable equipment that is safe to use for the work task, like a tower scaffold platform or similar safe working platform.
- Class 1 or EN131 working at height equipment to be used when a platform is not suitable.
- Maintain three points of contact when accessing/egressing equipment.
- Maintain three points of contact at the working position of ladders/step ladders.
- Ensure workers can get safely to and from the height they are working.
- Make sure precautions are taken when near or on fragile surfaces.
- Provide protection from objects which are likely to fall from above, like netting.
You Must Not:
- Overload equipment (check the labels or guidebooks for weight-bearing limits).
- Overreach on ladders or stepladders, as they could become unstable.
- Lean equipment on uneven surfaces as they could tip.
- Use ladders for extended periods of time (only use for a maximum of 30 minutes at a time).
- Rely on unqualified workers without the knowledge or skills to work at height.
Additional Control Measures:
Additional control measures may be needed to minimise the risk of accidents. They must take the form of robust site-specific risk assessments, and must be completed by a competent person who has knowledge of health and safety and an understanding of the work being completed on site. In most cases, using a health and safety consultancy like ours is the simplest way of doing this.
The risk assessments must include control measures for all known hazards and how the risks will be reduced to a minimum before work commences on site. A site-specific or pre-task risk assessment should be completed before commencing any work. This must incorporate any hazards outlined by the estimator/surveyor.
The estimator/surveyor is the first person to assess the risks on site before any work is undertaken. A pre-work survey can be completed to assess any risks evident that would need controlling before any on-site work starts.
A checklist can be completed and the findings communicated to the relevant employees before any work starts on site. This will build a strong base for the risk assessments and pre-task or site-specific risk assessments.
These could include:
- Having the right equipment for the job (the estimator must discern whether the job calls for the use of plant equipment, such as a scissor lift or cherry picker, or can be done with a tower scaffold, a ladder or step ladder),
- Consider using additional protective equipment like using a harness and pulley system or a cherry picker – these, along with other forms of PPE like hard hats, have to be tested to make sure they’re safe,
- Watch for adverse weather conditions in case it proves too dangerous to work at height (extreme winds or rain could provide an unstable or slippery surface),
- Cordon off the area below to ensure stray items that may fall don’t hit anyone or anything.
It’s an employer’s obligation under the Health and Safety at Work Act to make sure their employees are properly trained. Employees have to understand the risks involved in their work, and how to avoid them, in order to comply with health and safety protocol.
If you would like to learn more, follow the links for our quick, easy and cost-effective eLearning courses or contact us directly and we will assist you.
Working at height can be a dangerous task with a lot of risk involved. Employees need to be prepared and adequately trained to carry out the job safely, with equipment that’s safe and suitable.
It is vital that every workplace has a health and safety procedure and a method statement, and it is even more important that these are followed to ensure site safety.
For more information, please don’t hesitate to contact us and we will endeavour to assist you with as least disruption to your business as possible.