What Exactly Is Working At Height?
Working at heights is still one of the major issues in construction industry, which leads to fatalities and serious injuries to the workers. Falling from roofs, ladders, and through fragile surfaces are all common occurrences. Learn about safety tips for working at heights.
‘Work at height’ is a situation in which a person could fall a significant distance and sustain personal injury if proper precautions are not taken (for example, a fall through a shaky roof, down an unprotected lift shaft, or down stairwells).
First and foremost, workers should avoid working at heights whenever possible. If they cannot do so, they should use the proper equipment and safety procedures for their specific task, ensuring that their workspace is safe for them and others on the site.
There is a clear risk of workers being injured while working at height. One of the most common causes of workplace injuries is falling from great heights, and a fall from a great height can be a fatal accident.
Managers should prioritize fall protection safety and work to reduce employees’ risks. This article demonstrates how employers and workers can take simple, practical steps to reduce the risk of falling while working at height.
Safety Tips For Working At Heights
1. Recognize When and How To Use Fall Protection
When determining when and what type of fall protection is required by OSHA, three factors must be considered: frequency, duration, and work location. OSHA now uses two terms to help you determine the frequency and duration of work.
- Infrequent: Work that is completed only once a month or less.
- Temporary: Simple, short-term tasks that can be completed in 2 hours or less.
- Workplace Location: Once you’ve determined the frequency and duration, you’ll need to determine the worksite’s proximity to the hazard.
2. Use Railing
When possible, use the railing. The railing is a passive protection that is the simplest and most recommended way to keep your employees safe while complying with regulations.
There is no need for training or additional equipment because they must do nothing to stay safe (other than stay within the rail).
Railing systems are available for almost every type of rooftop, including non-penetrating railing, parapet-mounted railing, metal roof railing, and more. Rails are the most user-friendly fall protection system once installed, regardless of the type.
3. Select The Appropriate PPE
If you need to use Personal Fall Arrest Systems (PFAS), ensure you get the right equipment. All full-body harnesses which meet ANSI standards will perform the same regardless of price.
On the other hand, that price difference can get you something extra. Sure, sometimes it’s just a name, but other times it’s functionality you’re gaining or losing, like extra D-rings, fireproof material, or arc-safe design.
A more expensive harness may cost more simply because it is designed to be more comfortable. Conduct your research and determine what you truly require.
4. Examine Your PPE
A competent person should inspect harnesses and lanyards at least once a year, if not more frequently (one with the knowledge to recognize the hazard AND the authority to correct it).
On the other hand, PPE should be inspected by the user before each use. Anyone using the devices must understand what they are looking for, what is acceptable or not, and what steps to take if an issue arises.
A thorough pre-use inspection does not have to take a long time, and this is an important step that could mean the difference between life and death.
5. Ensure That Lifts Are Used Correctly
Because there are many ways for something to go wrong when operating a lift; however, we must address fall protection in the context of lifts. One of the most overlooked facts is that anyone in a boom lift must be properly tied off regardless of time or height.
“Properly tied-off” means they must not only be secured to the engineered anchor point designed for the lift, but they must also not wrap their lanyard around the rails and must have a lanyard that will protect them at the height at which they are working.
6. Be Wary Of Fragile Or Smooth Surfaces
Inspect the surfaces where your employees will be working to ensure that they are stable and will not break under the weight of a person standing on them. Workers can be injured even if a PFAS is used and their platform collapses under their weight.
If the working platform is unstable, it must be replaced before work can proceed. Slippery surfaces on scaffolding or elevated platforms must also be taken into account.
Before sending workers up to the platform, ensure that they wear appropriate footwear for the job. and that measures will help to reduce the slipperiness on the platform.
7. Conduct Regular Risk Assessments
Both employers and employees must be aware of the hazards and risks associated with the work being performed at all times. These risks can also change during a project.
By conducting risk assessments regularly, new hazards can be identified and addressed. Existing hazards can be reevaluated to make sure that the necessary steps to mitigate, avoid, or eliminate the hazard are taken.
8. Calculate Fall Distances Correctly
This may seem trivial to mention, but this crucial detail is easily overlooked. It is natural to believe that a fifteen-foot harness would be sufficient for a twenty-foot fall.
This, however, would disregard the worker’s height and any slack in the harness or anchor point caused by the force of the fall.
A six-foot-tall worker would have fallen to the ground while wearing his useless harness. If fall distances are miscalculated, a fall protection plan for working at height is useless.
9. Determine The Best Anchor Points
The anchor points to which safety harnesses are attached must be sufficiently stable to hold in the event of a fall. A fall has a significant amount of force. What exactly is an acceptable anchor point?
This isn’t a PVC pipe, and it’s not even a decorative piece of steel on the roof. An anchor point is only acceptable if and only if the following conditions are met: A professional engineer design and approve it to calculate the expected loads or can handle a 5,000-pound load.
10. Complete Regular Training
It cannot be overstated. Employees must be adequately trained if they are to work safely at heights. Not only is proper training required, but there is an excessive space for error and confusion when someone tries to protect himself at a height without proper knowledge.
Provide information to your employees that they need to stay safe. To reduce the likelihood of a workplace injury, all workers performing at heights must complete their Working At Heights Certification training and ensure that all relevant licensing is current.
All workers performing work at heights must be aware of the risks involved. Workers must also be trained to use the specific fall protection equipment they will be using on the job.
11. Enforce All Safety Regulations
Managers must enforce all safety precautions while working at heights and resist the temptation to relax enforcement as time passes. Familiarity does not remove the dangers, and discipline in enforcing the rules is ultimately best for everyone.