work at height safety harness

The importance of having a rescue plan when working at height

Posted on 19th Feb, 2019 | By Lorretta Tatham

Working at height can be dangerous if health and safety practices are not adhered to. If you or someone who works for you falls, you or they could break a bone, back, or worse. Falls from a height account for the majority of fatal accidents in UK workers. Of 144 workers killed in 2017-18, 35% of them fell from a height. This is not something you can cut corners on.

Because working at height is fraught with danger, businesses need a comprehensive rescue policy in place. This allows you to rescue a worker who has fallen from a height and is suspended in a harness. Prompt action is critical, as any delays in medical treatment could cause a bad accident to turn into a fatality. Don’t wait for the emergency services to respond to a 999 call. Response rates are variable, and you can’t guarantee an ambulance or fire engine will show up quickly.

Prepare a rescue plan, so you know what to do if the worst happens. Remember, this isn’t an optional box-ticking exercise – businesses that use fall arrest systems are required by law to have a rescue plan. If this is not something you already have, read on for some guidance.

Perform a risk assessment

It is imperative that a risk assessment is carried out before any work at height begins. Make sure the area is safe and the correct safety equipment is on site. Are there any hazards your workers need to be aware of? Have workers been given appropriate training for the task at hand? Look to minimise risks where possible.

All you need to know about winter risk assessment

Personal protective equipment

Any worker working at height needs the full complement of personal protective equipment (PPE). The equipment you need will depend on the specifics of the job they are undertaking, but in general, equipment should include fall arrest harnesses and safety helmets. Companies like us provide specialist safety training courses. This ensures workers can do their job safely.

Remember that PPE must be serviced regularly.

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Design a rescue system

Refer to your rescue plan when an incident occurs. Can the fallen worker rescue themselves or do they need assistance? Casualties may need to be lifted or lowered from a remote location. When working in a team, a fallen worker’s teammate might have to undertake the rescue.

Make sure that a rescuer does not put him or herself in danger when rescuing an incapacitated colleague. Having to rescue two fallen workers is twice as complicated. Also, make sure the rescue plan details exactly what equipment is required for each scenario. Note how each piece of equipment must be used, and in what configuration.

Write down the procedure in risky situations, such as when a fallen worker has slipped over the edge of a cliff or is dangling from a telecoms tower in a mountainous location.

Pay attention to first aid procedures and have first aid equipment on site at all times. With the right preparation, fatalities can be minimised and working at height need not be dangerous. Contact us if you need more information about work safety training courses.

Here at Browns Safety, we offer a number of work at height and access equipment training courses, helping you and your employees to stay safe when working at height. You can do so by clicking the link above, or by giving us a call on 01282 615517.

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