“Working at height remains one of the biggest causes of fatalities and major injuries. Common cases include falls from ladders and through fragile surfaces” according to HSE.
In 2019/20, there were 111 workplace fatalities in the UK, with 29 deaths attributed to falling from height
Avoid working from heights when you can
Working at height will always pose risks and health and safety concerns. The easiest way to mitigate these risks is to avoid working from height when you can.
For example, instead of a window cleaner using a ladder to clean ‘hard to reach’ areas, they could use an extendable cleaning pole to clean from the ground and then climb the ladder only if necessary.
Obviously not all ‘at height’ tasks can be completed without using a ladder, which brings us on to our next point.
Think about measures
There are many measures that can be put in place to lower the risks associated with working at heights.
The most efficient measures are ones that do not rely on an individual to act, for example, using a platform with fixed guardrails rather than a restraint harness where the individual is required to attach it to something.
Ensure you have 3-point contact with the ladder
If you need to use a ladder, it is important that you maintain a 3-point contact with it.
Maintaining 3-point contact means that you always have 3 limbs on the ladder at any given time, whether that is two arms and one leg, or one arm and two legs.
3-point contact allows for maximum stability and support and reduces the likelihood of slipping and falling.
For tall ladders, use the integrated fall arrest system, if there is one, alternatively, wear a fall arrest harness and use a lanyard with twin-hooks and a shock absorber.
‘Working at height’ can actually be below ground
If you can fall from it, it is classed as ‘at height’.
Many believe that working from height has to be above ground, however, there are many scenarios where workers can complete tasks below ground and still ‘work at height’.
The same precautions should be taken whether workers are above or below ground.
Competence is key
When working at height, competence and confidence is key to remaining safe.
This is usually achieved through training and hands-on experience with a working at height professional.
At Safer at Work, we are pleased to use our quarter-century of experience in the renewables industry to offer Global Wind Organisation (GWO) courses which cover working at height, manual handling, fire safety and rescue training.
Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you prepare and work at height safely and responsibly.