Safety Tips for Working at Heights and Why They are So Important
No matter how many times you have to work at a dangerous height, whether it’s infrequently or often, working safely is your priority. Just one slight mistake can turn a routine job into a serious injury, or worse – a fatality. Even if not fatal, the impact of injuries on workers and third parties can be very serious indeed. Falls from even what is perceived as a small height of 4 feet for instance can cause soft tissue injuries, fractures, spinal injuries and traumatic brain injuries.
Reported causes of death in the workplace 2019:
- 183 died of injuries sustained while working
- 97% were male
- 79 died at work in vehicle accidents
- 21 died falling from height
- 7 died from being hit by moving objects
- 21 died from being hit by falling objects
Source: SWA work-related traumatic injury fatalities, Australia 2019
Know What Qualifies as “Working at Height”?
In Australia working at height is legally described as “a risk of a fall from one level to another that is reasonably likely to cause injury to the worker or another person”. This also covers falling from one level to another or from ground level into a pit or lower level. Falls that happen on the same height when slipping or getting caught on an object are not considered as to have happened when working at height.
Assess the Risk
Prior to any work, risk assessment must be carried out. If the height is above 2 metres in construction or 3 metres in housing then a simple risk assessment is inadequate and you must complete a “Safe Work Method Statement” by law. Identifying hazards and knowing what physical requirements will be required at a site are important as these should be done first. If you have failed to spot potential hazards or seen what requirements like railings are required for the site anything you do from this point on is severely compromised. Knowledge of what is a risk and how to spot one is crucial.
Use the Proper PPE and Inspect It
There is a lot of personal protection equipment available and knowing what to use for the right situation is crucial, but so is inspecting it. One of the most common pieces of protection when working at height is a harness or lanyard. Even these simple devices can vary in functionality wildly and so have different benefits. A worker welding at height will need something more than a nylon harness for example as it won’t have adequate heat protection. Comfort is also a factor so do your research and determine what personal protection is required for each task. Inspecting your gear before commencing any work is also crucial yet easily forgotten. For the time it takes to inspect wear and tear or a fault this habit is worth its weight in gold.
Training, Training and Training
Knowledge is power, and the power to save your own life as well as lives of others is undeniable. There is so much to learn and if you want your employees to work safely at heights then training is the best way forward to prevent accidents.