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How to Conduct a Working At Height Risk Assessment
When you are conducting a working at height risk assessment, it should consist of five important steps.
- The first step is to look through the workplace closely for any potential hazards, such as falls from heights. Do your employees carry out their work from scaffolds, ladders, platforms or roofs? Do they have to walk on any overhead pathways?
- The next step is to figure out who would be harmed by these risks and how they would be harmed. Who is using this equipment? Who else comes into the workplace, such as contractors and members of the public? Are some groups more at risk than others?
- The third step is to consider the measures that are in place to deal with these risks. Are they adequate enough to protect employees from danger? Do new measures need to be implemented? Are regular inspections carried out in the workplace?
- The fourth step is to record all of the findings and conclusions of the risk assessment. If you have five or more employees this is required by law.
- The fifth step is to regularly review and update your work at height risk assessment. Also, you should review the risk assessment anytime there are significant changes in the workplace, such as adding in new equipment or changing the way that you do things. This will help you to make sure that the right precautions are still enough to deal with the risks.
Of course, no two workplaces are the same so it is important to make sure that you tailor your risk assessment to your particular needs. Pay attention to the needs of your workplace and listen to your employees – they will be able to spot the flaws in the work process because they are on the scene every day.
How to Avoid Accidents When Working at Height
One of the most important things to remember when reducing accidents form working at height is to take a sensible approach. Never compromise safety, even when you are rushing to meet a deadline and are tempted to cut corners to get the job done quicker. Always make sure that your work is well planned out, supervised and carried out by employees who have the appropriate training and experience. Also, make sure that you are providing your employees with the right type of equipment for working at height and that the equipment is in good repair.
If there is any way that you can avoid working at height in the first place, you should. This will help to eliminate the risk completely. However, there are some situations when working at height is unavoidable, so you should work to prevent fall risks as much as possible. This can be done by following the right health and safety procedures and using the right type of equipment.
It is also important to minimise the consequences if a fall from height did happen. This can be done by using safety harnesses and other equipment that can help to eliminate the risk.
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Working at Height Equipment
When considering which type of safety equipment to use when working at height, the HSE advise a variety of options you could consider. First you should consider if working at height could be avoided completely. Could alternative options such as extendable equipment or pre-assembled structures on the ground be used instead?
If work at height cannot be avoided, the first consideration should be to use collective fall protection equipment to provide protection for anyone who has to work at height.
Regulations Relating to Personal Fall Protection Systems
There are additional requirements to the Regulations for personal fall protection systems which require the user and a sufficient number of available persons to have received adequate training specific to the operations envisaged, including rescue procedures.
The HSE regards Working at Height training and accreditation schemes drawn up by trade bodies and training bodies as sufficient proof of competence for a given piece of work equipment.
Managing and Selecting Equipment for Working at Height
There is a simple hierarchy for managing and selecting equipment for working at height. Duty holders must:
- avoid working at height where they can
- use work equipment or other measures to prevent falls where they cannot avoid working at height; and where they cannot eliminate the risk of a fall, use work equipment or other measures to minimise the distance and consequences of a fall should one occur.
Working at Height Dos and Don’ts
How do I keep my employees safe when they are working in a high position?
Here are some important tips that you should keep in mind whenever working at height:
- Do make sure that workers can get to and from where they work at height in a safe manner.
- Don’t forget to consider the weight of equipment or materials that workers are carrying, so that scaffolding and ladders are not overloaded.
- Do perform regular inspections on the equipment that you need to work at height, ensuring that it is safe, suitable, stable and well-maintained.
- Don’t let employees overreach when they are standing on ladders, the ladder should always be tall enough for the work.
- Do make sure that your workplace has a procedure for what to do in an emergency and that all employees understand it and know their role.
- Don’t rest any ladders against surfaces that are not strong enough to hold the weight, such as plastic gutters or glazing.
- Do make sure that anyone on the job site wears personal protective equipment including hard hats, in order to protect them from falling objects.
- Don’t let anyone who doesn’t have the appropriate training carry out any work at height.