7 safety tips for working at height

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Without the appropriate safety precautions, working at height can be dangerous, and it accounts for a significant proportion of accidents and injuries experienced in the workplace. You should identify all work at height done in your business and conduct a full risk assessment for these activities.

To keep you and your workers safe, follow these safety tips whenever any working at height activities are undertaken.

AVOID WORKING AT HEIGHT WHERE POSSIBLE

The biggest safety tip for working at height is to avoid it wherever possible. If there is a way to achieve the same result without needing someone to work at height, you should always exercise that option first.

PLAN THE WORK

Before you undertake any working at height task, you should pre-plan every step of the process. Think about fall protection, think about emergency situations or potential evacuation procedures, think about any risks to people on the ground, and so on.

USE THE RIGHT EQUIPMENT

Always ensure that you have the right equipment on hand to complete the task safely. Depending on the height you need to reach, a ladder may be sufficient, but there are also plenty of scenarios where a ladder is not the appropriate access equipment for the task. Scaffolding might be necessary instead.

If you need greater height, or further reach, you may need a mobile access tower or powered access equipment. If you don’t have this equipment, you should hire it rather than try to make do with something that’s not stable or strong enough for the job.

ENSURE STAFF ARE APPROPRIATELY TRAINED

If you are using mobile access towers or powered access equipment, ensure that your staff have completed the relevant training – PASMA or IPAF courses. If your staff are not trained to operate the equipment, you’ll need a qualified operator.

Even if you’re not using equipment that requires formal training, staff should still have received training on how to use ladders and other working at height methods to ensure their safety.

INSPECT YOUR EQUIPMENT

No matter what type of equipment you’re using, you should always inspect it prior to use, even if it was only used recently. Make it a habit to check equipment for faults, weaknesses or issues before every use, and you’re less likely to experience an equipment failure at the worst possible time.

This goes for harnesses, personal protective equipment and other items too.

PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR ENVIRONMENT

When setting up for a working at height job, pay close attention to the surrounding environment. Ensure that the equipment you are using is completely stable and secure where it is situated, review any access requirements, identify risks to people not involved in the job. If there are weak areas of the site, these should be identified and clearly marked.

MONITOR THE WORK

During the work, ensure that you continually monitor the situation, with an eye for any emerging risks or concerns. If workers are distracted or otherwise not fully engaged with the work, remove them from the job for everyone’s safety. If there are any issues or causes for concern, halt the work until they can be addressed. It’s always better to lose time than experience a fall or serious incident.

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