Working at height is very common, particularly in the construction industry. But there are many potential hazards both employers and employees face when operating under such conditions. This blog looks at some of the most common hazards associated with working from heights and what you can do to overcome them.
Hazards Associated With Working At Height
‘Working at height’ isn’t just determined by working above the ground. Anywhere there is an opportunity to fall is classed as height.
This can be on, under, below or above ground and include any role with a risk to people below.
Suppose workers fall from a height of two or more meters. In that case, they will likely to sustain a severe injury, permanent disability, or potentially suffer a fatal injury.
Because of the potential hazards, Working at Height Regulations 2005 state that we must avoid working at height where possible. Employers must do all that is reasonably practicable to prevent a fall. If it is needed, the employee much be competent, or if being trained, is supervised by a qualified person.
Here are some of the most common hazards associated with working at height:
Unsafe Use Of Ladders And Stepladders
We’ve all used ladders and stepladders at home.
But when it comes to the workplace, several stringent rules and regulations are in place to identify and eliminate any unnecessary hazards.
For example, the law states that to use a ladder, workers must be ‘competent’ or – if they are being trained – be working under the supervision of a competent person.
A lot of these tips might sound like common sense. Still, it’s important to take heed: construction sites are busy work environments, and it’s easy to plough on with a task, forgetting about the surrounding environment.
So, it is advised to:
• Follow the manufacturer’s guidance on safe use (including maximum weight and height limits)
• Avoid heavy loads when climbing up or down
• Evaluate any additional adverse risks (such as wet or icy weather).
Inadequate Risk Assessments And Method Statements
Another potential working at height hazard is poor risk assessment.
Every site should have allocated well-trained and competent people to assess workplace dangers.
They should be confident in their abilities to identify potential problems and be empowered to recommend appropriate action(s).
Injury and damage from people or items falling from height can occur as a result of:
• poor edge protection
• unguarded openings
• work in areas without guardrails or covers
If a job is considered to be more complex, a method statement should be created, which adds more detail.
It should include how the job will be carried out and how the risks will be managed.
Lack of Experience
Like with any job, experience goes a long way.
Anyone required to work at height – whether on ladders, roofs, cliff tops or on top of vehicles – needs the right experience and training.
On-the-job training is permissible so long as trainees are put under the direct supervision of a qualified and able person.
The more an individual knows about potential working at height hazards, the less likely they are to make mistakes, putting both themselves, colleagues and (potentially) members of the public at risk.
Working At Height Training Courses
Here at Sussex Transport, we offer a range of training courses for working at height, including the safe use of ladders and harness and fall arrest.
Getting the right experience and knowledge could significantly reduce the risk of serious hazards associated with working at heights.
If you would like to find out more information, contact our team today to find out more.