Many construction workers are required to ‘work at height’ but what does this mean and what are the necessary health and safety procedures that need to be implemented? In this article we will answer both of these questions and provide you with all of the information you need. Working at height is extremely dangerous which is why it is important to make sure that you have equipment like cranes, spiderlifts and scaffolding to provide support and assistance.
What is working at height?
Working at height is when you are working somewhere that if precautions were not taken, you could fall and injure yourself. For example if you work above ground level or on fragile surfaces, you will technically be working at height, as you could cause injury to yourself if you were to take a fall. You will also be working at height if you need to use equipment such as scaffolding, cherry pickers, scissor lifts or spiderlifts.
Carrying out a risk assessment
Before carrying out this type of work, you will need to ensure that a risk assessment has been completed. A risk assessment will outline any possible risks of the work, which may result in you harming yourself in one way or another. The assessment should also provide solutions that minimise the risks and make working at height a safer task.
The first thing you should ask yourself is whether you really need to work at height or whether there is another way around it. For example, can you reach the required area using an extendable tool? If the answer is no, then you will need to find a way to minimise the risk of you falling whilst working at height. One of the ways you could go about preventing a fall is ensuring you have suitable equipment to use like a spiderlift or cherry picker. These tracked access platforms come with safety cages that will minimise the risk of you falling from great heights.
During the risk assessment you should also identify any fragile surfaces that may affect the type of equipment you can use. If you need to work on a particularly fragile surface, you may be best choosing a spiderlift to assist you in completing the work, as their lightweight and compact design makes them suitable for this type of application.
Taking additional measures
Before working at height, it is important to make sure that you have taken additional measures to ensure your safety. The first thing you should do is make sure that you have actually undergone the necessary training to be able to use the equipment safely. If you are planning on using a spiderlift to assist you in completing the work at height job, you will need to make sure you have passed the theory and practical test associated with IPAF Category 1B. This will ensure you know how to operate the equipment safely and have a good understanding of its limitations.
It is important that you also carry out pre-use checks on the equipment you are using and check its records to ensure it has been regularly inspected and maintained. This will give you chance to identify any problems with the machinery that may pose a potential hazard. You will be taught how to carry our pre-checks and inspections during your training course.
Minimising the consequences of a fall
Although it is much better to take preventative measures to stop you from falling, it is advised that you also take every precaution to minimise the consequences of a fall. Airbags and safety nets are often used as they can minimise the risk of injury if someone falls. It is also important that there is a first aider onsite who can take control of the situation and provide assistance in the case of a fall.
Working at height is risky, but providing you take the necessary safety precautions, you will be able to minimise the risks and likelihood of accidents in the work place. First and foremost it is essential that you have the necessary working at height equipment to provide support and that you understand how to use it safely and efficiently.