Working at Height continues to be the greatest causal factor for fatalities and serious injury in construction. Unfortunately, many falls occur at relatively low heights (for example, at 2 or 3 metres above ground level).
The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations 2007 sets out a simple hierarchy for managing work at a height:
avoid work at height where this is reasonably practicable
use work equipment or other measures to prevent falls where you cannot avoid working at height, and
where you cannot eliminate the risk of a fall, use work equipment or other measures to minimise the distance and consequences of a fall.
Day 3. 27 October 2021
A few things to consider for safety at height.
Work at ground level where possible: Do the majority of work on the ground before you have to work at height.
Beware of short jobs at height: Short jobs where you’re rushing are most likely to result in an accident. Take a minute and plan it out.
Provide, collective, passive protection: e.g. handrails that requires no input from workers; everyone is protected.
If using a Mobile Elevating platform: make sure you are trained to do so.
Ensure all scaffolding / platforms are erected by competent people: has the erector got the appropriate training?
Don’t over load platforms: if you must load scaffolds, make sure you have a loading bay.
Rain check: Are the weather conditions safe for working at height?
When using PPE such as a harness:
Make sure you are trained
Make sure you are properly tied off
Make sure you can be rescued if you fall
According to the Health and Safety Authority (HSA), working at height is defined as: “work in any place, including a place at, above or below ground level, where a person could be injured if they fell from that place. Access and egress to a place of work can also be work at height”.
The key messaging from the HSA to ensure safe working at height is as follows:
Carry out risk assessments for work at height activities and make sure that all work is planned, organised, and carried out by a competent person.
Follow the ‘General Principles of Prevention’ for managing risks from work at height, taking steps to avoid, prevent or reduce risks.
Chose appropriate work equipment and prioritise collective measures to prevent falls (such as guard rails and working platforms) before other measures which may only reduce the distance and consequences of a fall (such as nets or airbags) or may only provide fall-arrest through personal protection equipment.
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