Working at height occurs in a number of different industries and it can have very serious safety risks. Employers are responsible for ensuring that their employees are safe when working at height, whether working at a height of 5 metres or 50 metres above the ground.

Train Staff in Working at Height to Ensure a Safe Working Environment

In order to create a safe working environment when tasks are being carried out at height, it is essential that everyone involved has the right working at height training. The appropriate course will provide workers and employees with the information and guidance that they need to establish a safe working environment at height.

What are the Risks of Working at Height?

There are many risks associated with working at height. First of all, one of the main hazards is the risk of the workers themselves falling or objects falling onto others below. This might occur if there is inadequate protection around the edges of a working space, or if objects are poorly secured.

Falling from Height Can Cause Serious Injury

A fall from a height can cause serious injury and can even be deadly. Even a fall from a relatively low height such as a couple of metres can result in broken bones, fractures, head injuries, spinal injuries or other very serious consequences. According to the Health and Safety Executive, since 2001 an average of 50 people every year in the UK have died as a result from a fall when working at height. Also, there are a further 8,702 people who are seriously injured every year.

Assess the Risk to Ensure the Work is Carried Out Safely

It is the moral and legal responsibility of the employer to ensure that all work is being carried out safely, which includes taking all reasonable action to ensure health and safety in the workplace. Before carrying out any work at height, an employer should carry out a risk assessment. A working at height risk assessment is designed to determine the potential risks that might affect workers and figure out what measures should be taken to avoid them.

First of all, the employer should look for any hazards that might affect working at height. Is the roof that employees are standing on fragile? Are they carrying out complex work with ladders? Take a close look at the working procedures and figure out who might be harmed and how it could happen.

Next, determine whether or not there are any preventative measures in place to deal with these identified risks. If not, what measures should be implemented. For example, if there are any areas with no guardrails, can guardrails be installed? Also, if any working procedures need to be adapted to make them safer, this should be outlined clearly in a guide for employees.

Which Industries Require Working at Height?

There are many different industries that require working at height where employees might be in danger. For example, workers in maintenance and construction often work at height, including window cleaners, decorators and painters. Also, workers who repair or install telephone poles or roofing installers also work at height on a regular basis.

14 Tips for Staying Safe While Working at Height

It is very important to follow the appropriate health and safety procedures when working at height. Here are some important tips that you can keep in mind:

  1. If at all possible, always do as much work as you can while close to the ground or on the ground.
  2. Be careful not to overload ladders and always make sure that employees using ladders have a “buddy” on the ground ensuring that the ladder is stable.
  3. All employees involved in working at height should have the correct working at height training appropriate for the industry.
  4. Also, employees should have the correct personal protective equipment (PPE) (such as a safety harness). This equipment should fit correctly and should be inspected regularly.
  5. Always check to make sure that the surface and the access equipment is stable enough to support the weight of the worker.
  6. Employees should never try to increase the reach of a ladder by placing it on top of something else.
  7. All scaffold towers should be erected by a competent and trained professional and they should be inspected regularly.
  8. Any equipment that is used when working at height should be inspected very regularly and replaced or repaired on the very first sign of wear and tear.
  9. Provide all workers with protection from falling objects.
  10. If the task is difficult or will make more than 30 minutes, it is not recommended to use a ladder or a stepladder. Ladders and stepladders should only be used for simple, straightforward and short duration work rather than complex tasks over long periods.
  11. If you can’t reach something while standing on a ladder, don’t over-reach to try to get to it. This can be very dangerous, so find another safer way of reaching the object.
  12. When operating a piece of machinery that lifts up workers so that they can perform a task at height, check the surrounding area first for any obstacles such as manhole covers, arches, trees or power lines. Also, the machinery operator should always have sufficient visibility while reversing.
  13. If the machine is unable to be lowered due to a malfunction or an injury, there should be a plan in place to rescue the occupant.
  14. A pre-inspection of the machinery should be performed and any faults should be reported immediately and repaired before the equipment is used.

These are just a few of the important health and safety tips that employees and employers should follow when working at height.

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