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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.

Check out this short Tool Box Talk and this YouTube video on working safely at height.

 

Here are some links to HSA guidance:

HSA – Work at Height
HSA – Toolbox Talk on Working at Height
HSA – Using Ladders Safely
HSA – Safe use of Work Platforms-Trestles
HSA – Guide to SHWW General Application Regs, Part 4: Work at Height
HSA – MEWPs

 

 

 

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