A Head For Heights

Falls from heights remain the most common cause of workplace fatality with over half of all fatal falls take place in construction.  In 2015/16 26% of employees died as a result of a fall from height.

Keeping your feet on the ground is not always an option, so carrying out suitable risk assessments is a must. With over 60% of deaths during work at height involving falls from ladders, scaffold towers, mobile platforms and roofs its worth making sure measures are in place to prevent or stop a fall:

  1. Use either an existing place of work that is already safe or the right type of equipment. 
  2. Do not overload or overreach and take precaution when working on or near fragile surfaces.
  3. Provide protection from falling objects and consider your emergency procedures.

What are the most common causes of accidents when working at height?

Working on roofs can be dangerous and falls from roofs, through fragile roofs and fragile roof lights are a highly common cause of workplace fatality and serious injury. These accidents are likely to occur in construction, but can also take place on roofs of factories, warehouses, and farm building when roof repair is required.

According to HSE the following are likely to be fragile:

■ roof lights.

■ liner panels on built-up sheeted roofs.

■ non-reinforced fibre cement sheets.

■ corroded metal sheets.

■ glass (including wired glass).

■ rotted chipboard.

■ slates and tiles.

What do you need to consider when planning work at height?

Below are a list of requirements you need to consider when planning and undertaking work at height as stated by law (Source: HSE). You must:

■ take account of weather conditions that could compromise worker safety;

■ check that the place (eg a roof) where work at height is to be undertaken is safe. Each place where people will work at height needs to be checked every time, before use;

■ stop materials or objects from falling or, if it is not reasonably practicable to prevent objects falling, take suitable and sufficient measures to make sure no one can be injured, eg use exclusion zones to keep people away or mesh on scaffold to stop materials such as bricks falling off;

■ store materials and objects safely so they won’t cause injury if they are disturbed or collapse;

■ plan for emergencies and rescue, eg agree a set procedure for evacuation. Think about foreseeable situations and make sure employees know the emergency procedures. Don’t just rely entirely on the emergency services for rescue in your plan.

How do you select the right equipment to use for a job?

According to HSE,  when selecting equipment for work at height, employers must:

■ provide the most suitable equipment appropriate for the work

■ take account of factors such as:

■ the working conditions (eg weather);

■ the nature, frequency and duration of the work;

■ the risks to the safety of everyone where the work equipment will be used.

What must employees do:

The HSE’s ‘Working at Height’ guide states that according to law regulations, an employee, or a person working under someone’s else’s control must:

■ report any safety hazard they identify to their employer;

■ use the equipment and safety devices supplied or given to them properly, in accordance with any training and instructions (unless they think that would be unsafe, in which case they should seek further instructions before continuing).

You must consult your employees (either directly or via safety representatives), in good time, on health and safety matters. Issues you must consult employees on include:

■ risks arising from their work;

■ proposals to manage and/or control these risks;

■ the best ways of providing information and training.

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HSS Training

HSS Training offers the largest schedule for IPAF training with courses covering all machine types, courses in the safe use of harnesses, loading and unloading of MEWPS and specific courses for those responsible for the management of work at height.

Go to hsstraining.com or call 0845 766 7799 to find out more and book a place today.

“We had booked ladder training course which was delivered in a very professional manner. We will be using HSS Hire for training more members of our staff.” – Simon Quinn, Systems Limited (simon.quinn@i-systemsltd.co.uk)


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About the Author

Laura Harris

Laura works in our Customer Experience Team, with 5 years of experience at HSS. Speaking to customers on a daily basis, she brings a wealth of product knowledge and is able to give her advice on the right tool for the job no matter how big or small.


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