Whether you work in construction, electrical contracting or telecommunications, your role may involve an element of height work, the risk of injury or damage to property through on-site accidents while working at height is considerably increased.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) report that falls from height are the most common cause of death and severe injuries in the construction industry. Should a member of the public suffer injury or damage to property, for example, from a dropped hammer, then you could receive a significant claim under your Public Liability Insurance policy.
It is important to manage and assess risk effectively by identifying hazards that can threaten worker safety, injure people and damage property below. When you are working at height, your risk assessment should include adequate precautions to keep yourself, your employees and those around you safe from unnecessary on-site injury.
Establish a Safe Working Area
If possible, overhead work should never be performed over anyone and care should be taken to keep the space clear:
- Section off the hazard area with signage and some form of barricade to clear the area and prevent traffic from moving underneath the work zone.
- Use the correct personal protective equipment, such as a hard hat, if you need to enter the hazard area while work is being performed.
- If parking is allowed in the area, set up signage in advance. This will prevent unattended vehicles from being in your way when it comes time to work on the project.
- If a hazard area cannot be established under an overhead workspace use debris nets, catch platforms or canopies to protect people and property from possible falling objects.
Keeping Tools Secure
Anything dropped from height can be a potential hazard to those below. Even personal items like mobile phones can turn into harmful projectiles. The following, tips will help to keep your items secure:
- Connecting all tools to a safety cable to prevent accidental drops
- Using a holster or sheath and a safety line to hold your mobile phone, pager and any similar devices
- Inspecting all safety cables for proper function before starting work each day
- Using toe boards to prevent stray materials from accidentally being bumped off an elevated platform
Keeping Yourself & Your Employees Secure
If you or your employees fall from height, you could be seriously injured as well as potentially injuring others. The following steps will help you to manage and minimise the risk of a fall:
- Wear a body belt as part of a tethering or restraint system with a lanyard attached to the work platform
- Never climb or sit on guardrails
- Whether you’re using scaffolding or some type of lift, never exceed the recommended weight limit
Safety through Time Scheduling
Often the simplest risk management solutions are the most effective. The easiest way to reduce the risk of injury from falling items is to schedule the work at a time which reduces or removes the possibility of injury or damage to persons or property below. For example, scheduling work at a school during a holiday period, or work at a weekend in an office location.
Even for general work, carrying out height work away from peak times with less footfall or traffic will reduce the odds of an incident.
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