Alva Group Occupational Health and Safety Services

Working at Heights

According to Construction Safety SA, incidents involving falling from a height are thought to account for 15% of all reported incidents on site.

Working at elevated positions also referred to in the construction industry as working at heights, does not have a height specified within the regulations. It is stated, however, that no work is permitted in an elevated position unless it is done safely from a ladder, scaffolding, or from a position where the worker has been made to feel safe. Accidents at work often involve people falling from ladders, scaffolding, or through delicate surfaces. There are numerous reasons that this is the highest cause of injury on site, such as failing to wear or use the proper PPE / fall arrest or fall prevention equipment, training wasn’t received, the correct protocols weren’t followed, etc. It is possible, though, that another factor is that people don’t take the completion of small tasks seriously enough. Workers might use scaffolding, ladders, and elevating work platforms without obtaining the proper training and safety procedures. Many workers believe that because it takes a short amount of time to complete the task, nothing can go wrong. This kind of thinking is extremely risky because fatalities can happen at any time.

This is illustrated by the fact that ladders were involved in just over 3% of incidents, even small tasks that aren’t done properly can have a significant impact on a site’s health and safety.

Fall Protection Plan

A site must have a fall protection plan in place, and it is the contractor’s responsibility to see that it is followed, updated as needed, and maintained. The fall protection plan must include a risk assessment including the procedures and techniques used to identify all dangers in the locations.

Additionally, it is stated that workers who operate at heights must undergo a medical and psychological fitness evaluation, which must be documented.

All employees working in elevated places should receive training, and all fall safety equipment should undergo regular inspections, testing, and maintenance. These programmes or procedures should also be included in the fall protection plan.

To ensure that the rescue procedure is carried out as soon as possible after an incident, it is crucial that a site-specific rescue plan be available and detailed with the necessary procedures, personnel, and appropriate equipment required to affect a person’s rescue in the event of a fall.

The contractor is responsible for making sure that the construction manager has the most recent copy of the fall protection plan.

Site

To prevent any worker from falling through the space, it is required by the Construction Regulations that all unprotected holes in any surface area—including floors, edges, slabs, hatchways, and stairways—be appropriately guarded or barricaded. Additionally, it is advised that all entrances have the proper signage indicating that there is an open area.

Employees are not allowed to work in an elevated position unless it is done safely, such as when using a ladder or scaffolding, and with the appropriate PPE if necessary.

Fall Arrest Equipment

Regarding the task being done and the load, including any people they are designed to bear, all fall arrest equipment should be suitable and strong enough to sustain the person utilising it. Additionally, it must be firmly tied to a building that can offer adequate strength and support in the event of a fall. When using fall prevention equipment is not practical, fall arrest equipment is used instead.

Roof Work

When performing roof work on a construction site, the contractor is responsible for making sure that the work has been properly planned and executed. When working on a roof, keep in mind the following advice:

  • Working in inclement weather, such as a lot of rain or wind, is prohibited.
  • At all coverings to openings that won’t be able to sustain any people, imposed loads, or where delicate material is present, there must be clear warning signage. Additionally, these spaces must be walled off to prevent entry.
  • There should be adequate platforms and covers that can sustain the weight of all users and allow them to work safely.
  • Use enough guardrails or barriers in any location to stop people, objects, or equipment from falling.

Working at heights is undoubtedly an issue in many sectors, but it can also be avoided by following the right procedures and giving the right training and equipment. All health and safety professionals have a responsibility to offer enough guidance and support to lower this HRA’s (health reimbursement arrangement) fatality rate.

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