Different types of work require different safety measures. Therefore, it is vital that when working at height, you are properly equipped to complete the specific task-at-hand. However, with so many different working environments, operations and equipment, it can be a challenge to know exactly what type of equipment is needed for what task. Here, we break down the features of working at height, what is required when doing so and the several different working conditions, providing the necessary equipment needed to carry out work in the safest possible way.
Working at Height
Managing work at height follows a hierarchy of controls – avoid, prevent, restrain, arrest, which begins with the question “can the work be done safely from the ground?” Fall arrest equipment should only be considered as a last resort if other safety equipment cannot be used. For situations where work cannot be completed from the ground collective protection equipment such as nets and railings must be considered first.
A common solution is utilising scaffolding or mobile platform (MEWP) that provide easy and safe access at height. If none of the above methods can be implemented, individual fall protection equipment safeguarding from falls must be used. i.e. restraint equipment.
The basic features of individual fall protection equipment protecting against a fall from height are:
- Using fixed length equipment to position the user ensuring it isn't possible to reach a position from which he/she may fall from a height.
- If a fall occurs, the equipment must minimise the distance and consequences of a fall.
Components of Fall Protection Equipment
All fall protection systems must comprise three basic components:
- An anchor point – Anchor points are the first and most important element of an individual fall protection system. They connect to the workplace and work to fasten the connecting safeguarding component to a support structure. Anchor points may be permanent such as horizontal safety line systems with a steel rope or mobile such as safety tripods. All anchor points must conform to the requirements of EN795:2012 and be installed and tested in accordance with BS7883.
- Energy-absorbing components – This part of the fall protection system connects the safety harness to the anchor point. In the case of a fall, the energy-absorbing component must arrest the fall and absorb the energy generated. The component absorbs kinetic energy and limits the impact force to 6kN or less, which reduces the risk of further injury by suddenly stopping the fall. Typical equipment used with this function are energy-absorbing lanyards or a fall arrest blocks.
- Full body harness – The main purpose of a full-body harness is to keep an individual’s body supported while falling and ensure secure distribution of dynamic forces produced while arresting the fall.
Types of Work
As mentioned, different work conditions consist of different height safety requirements and procedures as a result of the environment they occur in and the dangers involved. Here we take a look and break down the safety requirements for working on a roof, fragile surfaces, ladders and scaffolds and the correct equipment that is needed to carry out work safely.
All work on roofs is highly dangerous, even a job that can take only minutes to complete consist of potentially fatal risks. Therefore, proper precautions are needed to control all the risks that are involved. The individuals managing and conducting the work need to be properly trained, competent and must fully plan the work to be completed in relation to the main risks, causes of accidents and equipment required.
Falls from roofs, either through fragile surfaces and openings or from roof edges can occur on both commercial and domestic projects as well as new build and refurbishment jobs. Many deaths happen every year involving smaller buildings working on the roof of domestic dwellings, which tend to fall under two types:
- Slopings roofs – These roofs require scaffolding to prevent workers and materials from falling from the edge. You must also fit edge protection to the eaves of any roof and on terraced properties to the rear as well as the front. Where work is of short duration, properly secured ladders to access the roof, such as roof ladders, may be used.
- Flat roofs – Falls from flat roof edges can be prevented by simple edge protection arrangments – a secure double guardrail and toeboard around the edge.
Work on a fragile surface roof requires a combination of stagings, guard rails, fall arrest and safety nets slung beneath and close to the roof. All roofs should be treated as fragile until they have been confirmed as not. Fragile rooflights are also a hazard as some may be difficult to spot in certain light conditions or maybe hidden by paint. These areas must be protected by using either barriers or covers that are secured and labelled with a warning. Here at SLG, we provide a number of products that ensure when working on sloping and flat roofs, you are completely protected against falls. You can view our best products for working on flat roofs below.
Fall Arrest Harness > Fall Arrest Block > Portable Safety Anchor >
Every time a ladder is used to carry out work at height, a pre-use check needs to be conducted to ensure that it is safe for use. This should be carried out by:
- The user
- Before using the ladder
- After the ladder has been dropped or moved from a dirty area to a clean area (conditions of feet need to be looked over)
The benefit of carrying out pre-use checks is to identify any immediate or serious defects that can cause an accident. The areas of most concern are the ladder’s stiles, feet and rungs. Once this has been completed and you are satisfied that the ladder is in good working condition, you must then ensure that all of the required safety precautions to carry out work whilst on the ladder are in place, including wearing the right equipment. At SafetyLiftinGear, we provide a range of secure ladder safety equipment that ensures your safety whilst working at height, including quality fall protection kits.
Ladder Safety Kit Level 1 > Ladder Safety Kit Level 2 >
Tower scaffolds are one method used to prevent a fall when working at height on a sloped roof. The type of scaffold selected needs to be suitable for the work and erected and dismantled by people who have been trained and are competent to do so. However, despite scaffolds existing to prevent a fall, dangers still exist once the scaffold has been set up, with many people injured each year as a result of falling from them. Incidents with scaffolds often occur as a result of dangerous methods of erection or dismantling, defects in the erected scaffold or the scaffold being misused. To ensure maximum safety whilst working on a scaffold, it is recommended that all workers wear appropriate protective equipment, such as specialist scaffold harnesses. You can view ours below!
Scaffold Harness Kit > 2-Point Scaffolders Harness Kit >
Mobile Elevated Working Platforms (MEWPS)
When using mobile elevated work platforms such as cherry pickers and access platforms, there are a number of safety precautions that need to be implemented in order to avoid and prevent falls from occurring. Such as:
- Wearing a suitable harness
- Only using the platform on level, firm ground
- Working with a trained operator at ground level
- Only using equipment with outriggers and stabilisers
- Keeping the platform within safe working limits and radius, taking account of wind speeds, beams, hanging obstructions and power cables
If all of these things are adhered to, then the likelihood of a fall or serious consequences as a result of a fall occurring is dramatically decreased. You can find our best-selling access platform harness below!
Safety Harness Kit For Access Platform >
In order to avoid potentially fatal falls when working at height, it’s vitally important that you understand the specific requirements of every task you carry out. The working environment needs to be assessed by competent and qualified people, who can identify dangers and hazards before they cause a real accident. When the work is actually being carried out, the importance of wearing the correct equipment as well as setting up the necessary safety precautions cannot be understated. As well as the above products, we supply a whole range of height safety equipment, perfect for a variety of operations at height. You can browse our extensive collection below.
Browse Height Safety Equipment >
If you have any questions regarding our range of height safety equipment or any of the listed products, please do not hesitate to contact us today by calling 0117 9381 600 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.