In this Episode of Safeti School, we walk through the three step decision-making process for minimising risk when working at at height. AVOID – PREVENT – MINIMISE.
The Work at Height Regulations 2005 require employers to do the following when assessing work at height:
Before working at height you must follow these simple steps:
- avoid work at height where it is reasonably practicable to do so
- where work at height cannot be easily avoided, prevent falls using either an existing place of work that is already safe or the right type of equipment
- minimise the distance and consequences of a fall, by using the right type of equipment where the risk cannot be eliminated
- do as much work as possible from the ground
- ensure workers can get safely to and from where they work at height
- ensure equipment is suitable, stable and strong enough for the job, maintained and checked regularly
- not overload or overreach when working at height
- take precautions when working on or near fragile surfaces
- provide protection from falling objects
- consider emergency evacuation and rescue procedures
Resources for Working at Height Podcast
Decision Guide – step-by-step guide from the HSE
HSE Statistics – falls from working at height are the most common cause of fatality at work
Podcast Production Services UK and Ireland – we can help you effectively communicate to your employees
Working at Height Podcast Transcript
Welcome to Safeti School, where we break down health safety and environment learning into simple bite-size snippets that you can use for your business or your career helping you improve your knowledge boost your performance and maybe even providing some inspiration. Let’s get started.
Hi there, welcome to this episode of safeti school.
Hopefully you’re getting some value from these episodes. And as we continue we’re going to expand out into different, more specialist areas and that will include looking at common areas of high risk. And today we’re going to walk through the step-by-step through the decision-making process that the health and safety executive here in the UK has scripted out for us to help us when we’re deciding what sort of control measures we need to put in when we’re working at height.
Obviously it is one of the major areas were fatalities occur and serious injuries as well.So hopefully this audio version is something that you can come back to over and over again or share with your colleagues.
They’re going through that decision-making process when they’re planning work. So really all this is doing is looking at the hierarchy of control and walking through it in a way that is appropriate for working at height.
The first thing we want to do is to consider whether we can eliminate the working at height in the first place, so therefore preventing actually getting up to any height of any significance and taking away that risk completely. Things you want to think about here are you know, if you’re doing for example window cleaning can you use extendable tools from ground level to remove the need for ladders or any other equipment to get you up to that level.
If you’re installing Hardware or any sort of equipment for your buildings. It’s a good question to ask, you know, do we need to be placing them at a height?
A lot of the time through the design process. Someone will think is a good idea to put that an element of infrastructure at a height,but it’s not always really necessary.
So that’s something that can be Looked at and reflected upon certainly in the planning process and then thereafter if you want to make an improvement. Something else finally, just think about in terms of prevention or elimination is can you prefabricate whatever it is that you’re going to do as much as possible at ground level and then only keep that very last portion of the work for working at height.
Taking that approach will certainly, if it doesn’t eliminate it completely you’re working at height,it will help you just as much as possible.
That leads us on to the second most preferable option here, which is preventing a fall from occurring. So rather than avoiding or eliminating the work at height completely, how can you work towards minimizing the risk of a fall from actually happening.
Ways of doing this would include selecting where your work location is according to the existing collective control measures that are in place.
So things like existing edge protection on a roof or a guarded mezzanine floor area, for example.
If you’re putting an equipment, you’ll want to try and prioritize selecting these areas because they do have existing control measures in place. If you don’t have that option, then you will looking more towards using the type of equipment that will prevent falls, such as MEWPs or mobile elevated working platforms, scissor lifts etc.
You’ll also want to consider whether a fixed structure such as a scaffold would be appropriate or in some cases. You might want to think about using a mobile scaffold depending on the type of work that you’re carrying out.
And finally, when you’re looking to prevent a fall from occurring,you may consider some work restraint systems,which maybe tether a person to roofing structure. Which then doesn’t allow them to get into a position where a fall would be likely.
That really rounds up the options when it comes to preventing a fall from occurring and then moving on from that you’re looking to try and mitigate or minimize the distance and consequences of a fall.
So once you’ve exhausted your options when it comes to avoidance of working at height or prevention of a fall you’ll want to start looking at systems such as fall arrest systems, industrial rope access systems and also as additional or standalone systems to mitigate the consequences and distance of a fall you’ll want to think about things like safety nets, soft landing systems and so forth. Which we tend to see in things like high rise construction projects where there’s high numbers of people working in the vicinity of a significant fall risk over long periods of time.
When you move beyond these types of systems, you’re really only talking about the more low-risk, short-duration activities were ladders and step ladders can be a sensible and practical option in a lot of circumstances.
A few things to remember here and we will cover step ladders and ladders.in another episode. Ensure that you’re using the right type of ladder for the job.
For example, does it reach the right height without putting anybody at risk? Are you competent or is the person using it competent to actually deliver the work using the equipment? So have you provided a person with adequate training do they need help or supervision and so on.
Using the equipment properly and following an actual system of work or some form of method statement that has been looked to include exactly what you’re going to do or something that resembles closely what you’re going to do is really a fundamental part.
Especially if you’re carrying out a new activity or something that’s significantly different from what’s been done before, and that of course includes using new staff.
Okay, that’s it for our five minute walk through of the step-by-step decision-making process that you you can use to reduce work at height.
I will leave some extra resources for you on the podcast page that you can reflect on and refer to if you’re planning working at height. So that’s it for me in this one. Good luck, and we’ll see you next time.
That’s it for this episode of safeti school.We hope this was helpful. If so, please remember to rate review and subscribe to this podcast on iTunes Google podcasts or Spotify and remember for more health safety and environment help.
You can visit us at Safeti.com, until next time. Take care.