What is Working at Heights?
Working at heights is defined as the performance of work at an elevated height of two meters or higher. This type of work is common in the construction industry. Working at heights is one of the biggest causes of preventable work injuries and fatalities around the world.
This working at heights procedure template can be used to improve safety when working at heights. Begin by recording the nature of work, identify activities associated with working at heights, and record the team working onsite. Next, determine potential risks like falling, slipping, or tripping. Then, proceed with evaluating controls like training, planning, and proper use of fall protection systems and equipment. Lastly, provide recommendations to improve working at height safety.
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In this article, we will talk about:
- What is a working at height risk assessment?
- Top 5 hazards when working at heights
- Strategic planning when working at heights
- General safety tips for working at heights
- Sample working at heights procedure
- Technology to identify risks when working at heights
A working at height risk assessment evaluates hazards and risks associated with working above ground/floor level. It is both a moral and legal obligation of employers to have a risk assessment done prior to working at heights in order to formulate and implement preventive measures against potential injuries and fatalities associated with working at heights.
Same as a regular risk assessment, a working at height risk assessment involves the following steps:
- Identify hazards
- Evaluate the risks
- Decide on protective or control measures
- Document findings
- Review and update if necessary
Working at heights is dangerous in more ways than one. Several situations, elements, and factors contribute not only to the overall risk level, but also to the nature of the hazards safety officers and construction workers may face on any given day. Below are the top hazards encountered when working at heights:
- Slips, Trips, and Falls
The lack of process implementation for idle tools and equipment can cause platforms to be littered; increasing the risk of accidental slips and trips which could lead to falls. Improper footwear can also cause slips and falls. Finally, workers who report for duty while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or when ill or injured, are at a higher risk due to poor motor function.
Safety officers must ensure that control measures are in place in order to prevent such situations where the risk of slips, trips, and falls are increased.
- Falling Objects
Another risk associated with the lack of a proper clean-up process are falling objects. While workers may have tools, equipment, and materials on an elevated platform for easy access, designating areas in which necessary items should be placed can drastically reduce the chances of objects from being knocked out of the platform and potentially injuring workers below.
Safety officers must ensure that all workers, especially the ones working below elevated work areas wear hard hats at all times.
- Faulty Work Platforms and Scaffolds
Elevated working platforms such as scaffolds and towers are essential for working at heights. It can also be extremely dangerous for workers if they happen to malfunction due to poor design and execution. Safety officers and scaffold competent personnel must ensure that elevated work platforms follow OSHA standards and are regularly inspected so structural issues are quickly identified and resolved.
- Fragile Roofing
Roofs are not designed to handle the weight of workers. If they need to be used as working platforms, a proper assessment must be done in order to determine the control measures needed to ensure safety. Construction personnel can use roof ladders or crawling boards designed to distribute a worker’s weight evenly on a wider area; allowing the roof to safely sustain the added weight.
- Inclement Weather
Strong winds can damage structures and elevated work platforms. Rain and snow can make surface areas slippery, and fog can reduce overall visibility. During inclement weather, the safest action to take is to halt construction work. If it is absolutely necessary, safety officers must ensure that all workers have the proper training, and are fitted with the appropriate PPEs to reduce the risk of incidents, injuries, and fatalities on the job.
At the start of the job it is best practice to determine whether a task requires working at heights. Unless necessary, It is advisable to avoid working at heights and instead encourage workers to use extended or long handled tools for hard to reach locations.
In the event that the work requires working at heights, determine if falls and accidents are preventable. If so, proper equipment (i.e. Mobile Elevated Work Platforms, scaffolds, ladders, PPE) should be used and inspected at all times to ensure that they are in good working condition. If falls and accidents are at risk of occurring or not preventable then safety harnesses and fall protection landing gear should be installed.
Below is a flow-chart that summarizes the decision making process when planning on working at heights:
- Avoid working at heights when possible
- Use an existing safe place of work
- Minimize fall distance and consequences by using the right type of equipment
- Select quality PPE which is regularly inspected
- Always use the rails and fall protection barriers
- Be mindful of the fall distance. Never overload and overreach
- Determine the best anchor point to support you
- Select the correct gear when working at heights (scaffold, lift, ladder)
- Consider emergency and rescue procedures
- Train your team to be safety conscious
Construction workers should only work at heights when it is absolutely unavoidable. When the greenlight is given to work at height, the effective implementation of a standard procedure can drastically reduce the associated risks and hazards. Below is an example of a standard procedure when working at heights:
Perform a thorough inspection of elevated platforms and PPEs
Before any worker is allowed to work at height, elevated platforms such as scaffolds and towers, as well as fall arrest equipment and other PPEs, need to undergo a comprehensive inspection to ensure that they have no defects, damage, and design flaws. Aside from pre-use inspections, a maintenance inspection schedule should also be established.
Check the load-bearing capacity of platforms and fall arrest equipment
After ensuring that elevated platforms and personal fall arrest equipment are up to standard, verify their load-bearing capacity to ensure that you do not exceed recommended levels. For example, OSHA requires scaffolding to be able to bear at least four times the maximum intended load applied to it.
Check worker fitness and competency before allowing them to work at heights
Before allowing personnel to work at heights, safety officers must ensure that individuals have undergone and passed the training programs required for elevated work. Additionally, workers must be physically capable of working at heights and do not have pre-existing health conditions which may put them at a higher risk while performing their work. Lastly, workers must not be allowed to report for duty if they are under the influence of alcohol or recreational drugs.(Video) Risk Assessment Training (FULL Course!) | SMART way to TRAIN Employees | Workplace Health and Safety
Secure objects, equipment, and tools when elevated
While working at heights, procedures for securing objects, equipment and tools should be in place to prevent falling objects from injuring those who work at the ground level. Attachment points, tool lanyards, tool holsters, and tool belts are simple, low-cost control measures to reduce the likelihood of worker injury due to falling objects.
Immediately report identified risks and hazards to concerned personnel
Any worker who identifies risks or hazards, especially regarding working at heights, must immediately report them to concerned individuals. In such a scenario, work must be stopped immediately. A competent individual, in most cases the official safety officer, must ensure that the risks have been mitigated before allowing work to resume.
Considering the high fatality and injury rates associated with working at heights, it makes perfect sense for companies to invest in the best tools and equipment to minimize such risks.
Using iAuditor by SafetyCulture as a safety inspection tool, safety officers and construction workers can improve risk assessment practices so issues are identified and resolved ASAP.
Take advantage of these industry-leading features to ensure the safety of your workers:
- Download ready-to-use working at heights templates via our public library, convert your existing paper templates into iAuditor’s digital format, or create one from scratch using our drag-and-drop template builder. No coding required.
- Customize template response types so you can filter responses and get the data you want. Take pictures and annotate them mid-inspection for a more comprehensive and detailed report.
- Assign actions to the right personnel when risks and hazards are identified to cut the lag time between issue identification and resolution.
- Automatically generate and send comprehensive, professional reports after completing your inspections. No need to manually compile data. Streamline safety reporting with automatic report-sharing.
- Keep your inspection data safe via unlimited cloud storage. Using custom permissions, you can ensure that only authorized personnel can access your inspection data.
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The law on work at height requires that you take account of your risk assessment in organising and planning work and identifying the precautions required. Your objective is to make sure work at height is properly planned, supervised and carried out in a safe manner.
- Identifying the hazards.
- Deciding who might be harmed and how.
- Evaluating the risks and deciding on precautions.
- Recording your findings and implementing them.
- Reviewing your assessment and updating if necessary.
- Understanding risk. ...
- Step 1 – Identify all potential hazards. ...
- Step 2 – Identify who could be harmed and how this could happen. ...
- Step 3 – Evaluate the risk and decide on control factors. ...
- Step 4 – Record and implement your findings. ...
- Step 5 – Review and update regularly. ...
- Stay safe.
Yes, you should end up with a risk assessment document. This written document is a record of the risk assessment process. If you have 5 or more employees, it's a legal requirement to write down your risk assessment. Even if you don't have 5 or more employees, writing down your risk assessment is good practice.
- The Health and Safety Executive's Five steps to risk assessment.
- Step 1: Identify the hazards.
- Step 2: Decide who might be harmed and how.
- Step 3: Evaluate the risks and decide on precautions.
- Step 4: Record your findings and implement them.
- Step 5: Review your risk assessment and update if. necessary.
Working at height remains one of the biggest causes of fatalities and major injuries. Common cases include falls from roofs, ladders, and through fragile surfaces.
First assess the risks. Factors to weigh up include the height of the task, the duration and frequency, and the condition of the surface being worked on. Before working at height work through these simple steps: avoid work at height where it's reasonably practicable.
Fall protection equipment such as lanyards and harnesses should be regularly inspected by a qualified professional. Such a professional should have the knowledge to not only inspect a lanyard or harness but must also be able to repair them if needed.
- Avoid working at height completely. ...
- Prevent falls using a safe place to carry out work. ...
- Prevent falls using collective equipment. ...
- Use personal protective equipment (PPE): Fall restraint.
OSHA requires that fall protection be provided at elevations of four feet in general industry workplaces, five feet in shipyards, six feet in the construction industry and eight feet in longshoring operations.
Key points. NIOSH defines five rungs of the Hierarchy of Controls: elimination, substitution, engineering controls, administrative controls and personal protective equipment. The hierarchy is arranged beginning with the most effective controls and proceeds to the least effective.
How to write a Risk Assessment - YouTube
For example: the risk of developing cancer from smoking cigarettes could be expressed as: "cigarette smokers are 12 times (for example) more likely to die of lung cancer than non-smokers", or.
Risk assessment is a thorough look. at your workplace to identify those things, situations, processes, etc. that may cause harm, particularly. to people. After identification is made, you analyze and evaluate how likely and severe the risk is.
Types of Risks
Widely, risks can be classified into three types: Business Risk, Non-Business Risk, and Financial Risk.
Finally, you must review the results of the risk assessment, which can take up to four weeks, bringing the total length of time to 40 days. By comparison, those who use the risk assessment tool vsRisk can complete the process in as little as eight days.
A safety harness is a form of protective equipment designed to safeguard the user from injury or death from falling. The core item of a fall arrest system, the harness is usually fabricated from rope, braided wire cable, or synthetic webbing.
Fall protection for a ladder is unique. Unless it is a fixed ladder above 24 feet, neither a body belt nor harness is required. Fall protection is provided for in the rules for climbing (i.e., three-point contact, centering the body, etc.) and ladder setup (i.e., height-to-base ratio of 4:1, securing the ladder, etc.).
Are ladders banned? No, ladders are not banned. They can be used for low-risk, short duration work and where a risk assessment shows that other more suitable work equipment cannot be used due to the layout of the work area.
All sites are different, but generally speaking, 2 metres is the key point at which systems are required. If the height is 2 metres or more, then height safety systems are required. Similarly they are required if working within 2 metres of a fall edge.
Safety Rules for Working at Height
Locate airbags as close as possible to the working area. Allow adequate clearance for safety nets and harnesses. Choose collective protection that safeguards multiple people before issuing personal protective measures.
Any tool that a worker carries to an at-height location must be connected by way of a lanyard. The common argument is that too many lanyards can cause dangerous tangles, so some thought must go into this.
Do not work off the top three rungs – this provides a handhold. and one hand). Do not leave ladders unattended.
Are you out of your mind? No, you should not wear your fall protection equipment over anything but your base layer of clothing.
How do you set up a ladder? It's all about the angle of the ladder against the wall. The magic number recommended by the HSE1 is 75 degrees, so that the base of the ladder is set away from the wall at one-quarter of the working length of the ladder.
- Avoid hazardous manual handling, so far as is reasonably practicable.
- Assess the risk of any hazardous manual handling operation, which cannot be avoided.
- Reduce the risk of injury, so far as is reasonably practicable.
- 4.1 Avoiding the Hazard.
- Physiological (anticipated). Most in-hospital falls belong to this category. ...
- Physiological (unanticipated). ...
Fixed ladders: fall protection must be provided for employees climbing or working on fixed ladders above 24 feet. 29 CFR 1926.1053(a)(19) states that fall protection must be provided whenever the length of climb on a fixed ladder equals or exceeds 24 feet.
- Fall Arrest Systems. These systems are used when there is a risk of workers falling 6 feet or more from a working/walking surface. ...
- Positioning Systems. ...
- Retrieval Systems. ...
- Suspension Systems.
- Step 1: Identify the hazards. The easiest way to get started with identifying hazards in your workplace…is to walk around and look for them! ...
- Step 2: Consider who might be harmed. ...
- Step 3: Evaluating the risks. ...
- Step 4: Control Measures. ...
- Step 5: Write the risk assessment. ...
- Step 6: Regular review.
- Identify hazards in risk assessment.
- Establish who might be harmed and how in risk assessment.
- Evaluate and decide on precautions in risk assessment.
- Record and share key findings of risk assessment.
- Review risk assessment regularly.