How to prevent the 4 most common work-at-height safety breaches
Posted on 16th Dec, 2021 | By Lorretta Tatham
In quite staggering findings, the Building Safety Group reported an 84% rise in working-at-height safety breaches in the first quarter of 2021. These findings, which also see falling from height account for 60% of fatal injuries, serve to highlight the perennial importance of having the right training and precautions in place before undertaking any work at height. That’s where we come in here at Browns Safety – our Work At Height safety training courses are designed to help you and your team minimise the risk, danger, and therefore injury associated with working at height.
There are several common safety breaches when working from a height. It is important to be aware of them and make your staff aware of them too. Here, we’ll discuss ways to prevent the 4 most common work-at-height safety breaches to help keep your workforce safe.
Falling through a fragile roof
One of the main reasons workers often find themselves on a roof is because it’s in need of some form of repair. It probably comes as no surprise, then, that this fragility in turn sometimes ends up as a factor in accidents.
One of the most important steps to avoiding injury on any fragile roof is to secure the surrounding area and ensure any work that can be conducted away from the roof itself. Depending on how large the roof is, you may be able to ensure a further level of safety by installing an additional surface across the weaker areas (such as a flat board), creating a platform to take the weight from the surface.
Alternatively, providing harnesses to employees working at height is another measure that you may want to consider. Harnesses not only support weight but give the employee protection in case the roof collapses, as strapping them to a stable structure can prevent them from falling.
Falling from a ladder
also very ,As experts in the field of height safety training, a large part of our work includes training people using ladders and scaffolding. Very few ladder falls are unpreventable – it can often be down to rushed preparation or a lack of awareness of how weight transfer can affect the ladder. Climbing with objects or not walking one step at a time, with both hands firmly gripped, can cause poor balance and increase the likelihood of falling.
Making your staff aware of the 4 to 1 rule (1 foot away from the building for every 4 foot of height the ladder reaches) is one basic but fundamental way you can protect your staff. Ensuring they have the right personal protective equipment, or PPE – such as gloves and boots with firm grip – can also mitigate from a ladder fall.
No safe route to move materials
It is in working-from-height legislation that there must be sufficient room for workers to move materials when working at height. But because this is open to a degree of interpretation, conditions can often accidentally be breached. So how do you ensure safe passage of materials when setting up a project at height?
An initial risk assessment is important, to establish how at-risk a certain area is. This will also allow you to set-up at a larger surface area to ensure your workers will be comfortable moving at height. Safety officers or site managers will be familiar with how much space is needed on projects of different sizes. Once set up, consistently monitoring the area, discouraging route blockages and asking for staff feedback will allow you to make pre-emptive changes to the zone in use if needed.
Avoid moving parts when working at height
The higher you get from the ground, the more impact smaller movements have on safety and balance. That means that if the building or structures have any moving or loose parts, they can become hazardous quickly and easily. Settings that come to mind are scaffolding, where some of the bars can come out of place if not secured correctly, or atop a cherry picker vehicle, when workers are counting on support from the floor and the railings to stay safe. Any small move of these objects can cause a stark movement and a sudden fall. Avoid this by ensuring all support structures are secure correctly and in good working order. Damage and wear and tear can become bigger issues if they aren’t noticed early. (Happily, we can help there too at Browns Safety, as we also offer an on-site ladder inspection service.)
Another great way to avoid accidents is to regularly ensure that all your staff are up to date with appropriate practices and procedures. Here at Browns Safety, we offer several relevant courses in this regard. One of these is our Working At Height training course, which is designed to give delegates a thorough working knowledge of the Work at Height Regulations 2005, as well as familiarising them with any other relevant health and safety laws. You can also enhance this knowledge with the guidance from our Harnesses and Lanyards course, which specifically provides guidance in the matter of fall arrest equipment. To book your places on these courses, you can visit the relevant links, or alternatively give our team a call on 01282 615517, and we’ll be happy to help!