10 Tips for Working Safely at Heights

work platforms safety height

1) Use Safety Rails

The use of safety rails is among the most effective method of protecting the wellbeing of workers, as they don’t require the worker to utilise any additional safety measures. There’s a type of safety rail to suit practically all workplace situations and they come in two styles; permanent (pre-fab) or portable.

2) Use the Correct Personal Protection Equipment (PPE)

For the companies that elect to implement personal safety protection, such as harnesses, it’s essential that the correct gear is used. Although there are many different harnesses on the market that comply with all relevant safety standards, the prices in some cases will be markedly different, for different brands. Despite each of them offering a satisfactory a fully compliant safety solution, it should be noted that more expensive options may provide additional features, that enhance worker safety beyond the required levels. Such features may include added comfort, fire-retardant fabric and other performance enhancing capabilities.

3) Examine Protective Equipment

Simply using the correct personal safety equipment is not enough. It’s equally important that the equipment is routinely checked, as neglecting to do so can result in equipment failure, which can have dire consequences for those whose safety depends the integrity of their equipment. All personal safety equipment should be examined by someone who is suitably qualified to identify any defects and by the user themselves. Conducting regular safety checks, can help prevent serious worker injuries or even fatalities.

4) Use Lanyards of a Suitable Length

All workers need to be equipped with lanyards that allow them to safely dismount from just above the floor that they are descending towards. A lanyard that is too long is useless and jeopardises the worker’s safety. Be sure to read up on the many good articles which help you calculate the size of lanyard required for a given fall distance.

5) Use Appropriate Anchor Points

Another critical factor that ensures worker safety, where personal harnesses are concerned, are anchor points. An anchor point is simply a structure that a harness is attached (or anchored) to. Health and safety laws vary throughout the world, but in the United States, an anchor point must be able to support the weight of the worker plus five thousand pounds. For every additional worker that is harnessed, another five thousand pounds must be added to the total support weight.

6) Utilise the Most Effective Method of Working at Height

Central to ensuring suitable worker safety protection is choosing the best method for working at an elevated height, whether it be scaffolding, work platforms, ladders or elevated work platforms. In cases where scaffolding is the best option, it should be possible to reinforce them with safety rails, which will make the process of personal safety, much easier. In other cases, scaffolding may not suitable and elevated work platforms will be used. The kind of safety platform used will determine whether or not additional safety equipment such as personal harnesses, will be required. In other cases still, a ladder may be the only viable method of working at an elevated height, making personal safety a little more complicated.

7) Use Ladders in a Safe Fashion

Many workplace-related injuries occur through the use of ladders, because people mistakenly assume that they are safe to use for almost any application that requires access to elevated areas. Ladders can be hazardous if not used responsibly. To use a ladder effectively, it’s important to:

  • Determine if the ladder is the most appropriate means of reaching an elevated area
  • Ensure that workers are aware of how to safely use them
  • Ensure that workers are familiar with the special safety conditions for using an extension ladder

8) Understand Roofing Laws

There are many misconceptions concerning roofing laws. Not only are roofers themselves often unaware of them, but those working with roofers are often under the false impression that adequate safety protection is in place, to protect them from the threat of injury. All roofing work must be monitored by a supervisor, whose chief responsibility is to ensure that all workers are aware of where the edge of the roof is at all times.

9) Be Sure to Use Elevated Work Platforms Correctly

As a minimum safety requirement, anyone operating an elevated work platform must be attached to its anchor point but cannot have their lanyard roped around the safety railings. Additionally, the length of their lanyard must be suitable for the height at which they are working (refer to step 4).  

10) Ensure Workers Are Highly Trained

Working at heights is dangerous and one of the most important factors that can help mitigate the danger, is employee training. Not only is training a legal prerequisite, but working in elevated areas without adequate training leaves employees vulnerable to potentially life threatening situations. Height related mishaps are responsible for more deaths in construction industry than any other cause.

Ensure your workers are safely equipped to work at heights, by getting in touch with a specialised manufacturer of industrial safety equipment.

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