Working at height is one of the leading causes of workplace accidents and therefore is one of the biggest health and safety concerns within the construction industry. It is always important to make sure necessary precautions are being taken when working at height. This is especially true as we are now fast approaching winter, which presents additional risks, therefore other factors need to be considered when working at height. Adverse weather conditions should be considered in risk assessments no matter what the season, however as the weather gets colder, adverse weather is even more likely.
Training is essential for working at height, despite the weather. However, it is even more essential when working in adverse weather conditions. Training is vital for ensuring workers know which risks to look out for. Having the correct training means that workers are more likely to understand health and safety procedures and conduct work in accordance with these. Quality training is invaluable especially when it comes to safety, as it gives workers the tools to do the job; including confidence and competence. At HSS we have a variety of working at height training courses to ensure workers are fully prepared and have the relevant health and safety knowledge.
Working at height exposes workers to stronger winds which can increase the risk that they may lose their footing; other hazards including flying objects can also directly harm them or their equipment. It is important to thoroughly check equipment before use to ensure it is safe and has low risk of being damaged by the wind. If the wind is severe, work should be suspended. Those with proper training will have the confidence to know when to suspend work for safety reasons.
When using scaffold towers, they should be tied to a suitable adjacent rigid support structure if winds reach 25mph; all HSS scaffold towers have guard rails for fall protection. All mobile elevated work platforms (MEWPs) designed for outdoor use can operate in wind speeds up to given maximum. Under BS EN280:2001+A2:2009 (Mobile elevating work platforms – Design calculations – Stability criteria – Construction – Safety – Examinations and tests) the maximum design wind speed in which a MEWP can work is 12.5 m/s (28 mph).
In winter there may be more hazards than usual, especially when the ice and snow hits. Snow and ice don’t only make work more hazardous, but it can also damage equipment, so it is important before carrying out work that all equipment is checked to make sure it is in full working order. Make sure walkways and ladders are clear of snow before performing work and that ice or snow is not preventing use of equipment.
Thunder and Lightning
Lightning is a big hazard for those working at height as they will likely be the highest object and therefore at risk of being struck. Workers should always keep an eye on the weather and more so if thunder and lightning is a possibility; work should be suspended as quickly as possible if thunder and lightning occurs in the area.
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