A health and safety guide to working at height

Working at height can be difficult and dangerous. Indeed, it remains one of the biggest causes of workplace fatalities and major injuries in the UK. Among the most common accidents are falls through fragile surfaces and falls from ladders.

If you want to protect your workers from risks when they are operating at height, it’s important to bear all the relevant safety advice and guidance in mind. Here are some top tips to help you maintain safety levels.

Proper planning is a must

Before you instruct your workers to start tasks at height, you’ll need to do some detailed planning. For example, you must take account of any weather conditions that could compromise safety. In addition, you must check that the place where the work will be carried out is safe.

You’ll also need to make contingencies to stop objects falling or, if this is not possible, take suitable measures to ensure no one can be injured. For example, you might have to erect exclusion zones.

The law also requires you to store materials and objects safety so that they won’t cause injury if they are disturbed or collapse.

Even though you don’t want any emergencies to arise, it’s necessary to prepare for these scenarios just in case. This means you must agree a set procedure for evacuation and make sure your workers know your emergency plans.

Assessing risks

Risk assessments are a major feature of health and safety laws in the UK. For each task that your employees carry out, you need to assess the dangers involved and put suitable control measures in place. When it comes to working at height, there is a hierarchy of control measures to follow. You only move up the hierarchy when you decide controls are not practicable.

The hierarchy goes as follows:

Avoid the need to work at height (for example by using extending equipment from ground level)
Prevent falls using suitable access equipment
Reduce the distance and consequences of falls should they occur

Appropriate supervision

When operating at height, you must ensure your workers have appropriate supervision. This must be carried out by competent people, including managers and supervisors, who have undergone the required training.

If you’re interested in booking safety training for your personnel, you can look to firms such as Phoenix Health & Safety.

The right equipment

The old adage that only a bad workman blames his tools cannot be applied to work conducted at height. It is vital that your workers have access to suitable equipment that is regularly inspected and effectively maintained.

For example, where the safety of work equipment depends on how is has been installed or assembled, you should ensure it is not used until it has been inspected in that position by a competent person.

Meanwhile, you are required to keep a record of inspection for work equipment including guard rails, toe-boards, barriers, work platforms and ladders. It’s also important to note that any equipment exposed to conditions that could cause it to deteriorate should be inspected at regular intervals.

By bearing guidance like this in mind, you should find it easier to maintain safety levels among your workers.