How to mitigate the biggest risks of working at height
Posted on 22nd Oct, 2019 | By Lorretta Tatham
It’s no secret that Working at Height constitutes one of the biggest risks facing employees today, and it’s still a leading factor in hundreds of injuries (some of them fatal) every year. Naturally, this makes it a key safety priority for managers and business owners, especially so in certain industries like construction and industrial, in which employees routinely perform work at height. So, what can employers do to mitigate the risks to their employees?
The golden rule: avoid working at height wherever possible!
It might sound deceptively simple, but one of the easiest ways to sidestep the risks posed by Working at Height is simply… don’t do it. Now of course, for many tasks this is not always practical or realistic – but you might be surprised at how often it is, simply be modifying existing work processes. Window cleaning for example, a task which commonly requires working at height, can sometimes be performed from the ground, with the aid of squeegees and similar specialised equipment.
What if it’s unavoidable?
More intensive construction tasks, on the other hand, can be achieved by modifying a design. For example, you can erect guardrails or similar types of steelwork at ground level, and then crane them into place. Another viable method would be to work from an already established safe place where additional safety measures will be a bonus, rather than a minimal requirement. A good example of this would be a balcony or parapet – these are stable, secure, and already fenced in with barriers and railings.
Alternatively, you can provide a safe working platform for your employees in the form of a mobile scaffold tower or similar utility. These need to be outfitted with guardrails, fences and toeboards to protect employees from falls. If a platform isn’t viable, secure forms of personnel equipment must be provided by the employer, such as rope access. If any employees are still exposed to unprotected edges, it’s the employer’s duty to provide (and regularly inspect) equipment which will restrain or even prevent falls. Safety harnesses constitute one example of such equipment, and additional safety nets can provide an extra layer of security and peace of mind.
Effective training can save lives
Another great way to avoid accidents is to regularly ensure that all your staff are up to date with appropriate practices and procedures. Here at Browns Safety, we offer several relevant courses in this regard. One of these is our Working At Height training course, which is designed to give delegates a thorough working knowledge of the Work at Height Regulations 2005, as well as familiarising them wit any other relevant health and safety laws. You can also enhance this knowledge with the guidance from our Harnesses and Lanyards course, which specifically provides guidance in the matter of fall arrest equipment. To book your places on these courses, you can visit the relevant links, or alternatively give our team a call on 01282 615517, and we’ll be happy to help!