The topic “Work at height hazards and control measures” covers two (2) areas:
- Work at height hazards and
- Work at height control measures
According to Health and Safety Executive Working at height or Work at height means work in any place where, if there were no precautions in place, a person could fall a distance liable to cause personal injury (for example a fall through a fragile roof). It remains one of the biggest causes of fatalities and major injuries. Common cases include falls from ladders and through fragile surfaces.
Work at height hazards
These are acts, situations and conditions which have the potential to cause harm to anyone working at height; these hazards includes:
- Failure of a fragile surface.
- Unguarded holes in floors
- Failure of the elevated work platform (Collapse, overturn, etc.)
- Poor edge protection
- Items being poorly stored or secured
- Work in areas without guard rails or covers.
- Poor training
- Falling object
Work at height control measures
Here are series of action that should be taken to manage all the hazards associated with work at height.
To set a workable work at height control measures, proper work at height risk assessment should be carried out. This will guide the process of drawing out adequate control measures for work at height activity.
Hierarchy of controls when working at height
When working at height, hierarchy of control to be followed include:
- Avoid working at height where possible
- Work from an existing place of work, or use an existing means of access and egress.
- Preventing falls using collective protection
- Preventing falls using personal protective equipment
- Provision of work equipment to minimise the distance and consequences of a fall, e.g. fall arrest systems
- Instruction and training and/or other means
Where possible, work at height should be avoided, usually by carrying out tasks from the ground.
If not possible, other hierarchy of controls should be adopted.
Use existing working platform
Here existing safe place of work is used to carry out work where possible. This existing work platform is believe not to require additional protective equipment and with is no risk of falling because preventative measures are already in place.
Preventing falls using collective protection
This means protecting everyone who’s potentially at risk. This involve ensuring the use of a safe working platform. Below are the characteristics of a safe working platform:
- The working surface must be stable and of sufficient strength and rigidity for the purpose.
- The working platform must rest on stable and suitably strong surfaces.
- It must be of sufficient size to allow safe use for persons, plant and material; the space must be suitable.
- Should be designed in such a way that fall from the platform is avoided.
- No gaps should be left on the platform.
- Suitable protection, such as platforms, coverings, crawling boards or guard rails, must be provided.
- Measures should be taken to minimise the distance and consequence of any fall, e.g. fall arrest systems, safety nets and air bags.
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Preventing falls using personal protective equipment
This could include equipment such as safety belts (Body harness), which restrict the worker’s movement to the extent that a fall isn’t possible.
Minimise consequences using collective equipment
This level on the hierarchy of control again refers to the use of safety nets or airbags. This can help to reduce the distance of a fall, and also to soften the impact of fall.
Ensure workers training
Before any worker is assigned with the task of working at height, the worker needs to be properly trained. The training should cover:
- What is working at height
- Dangers of working at height
- Who should work at height
- Safety measures to adopt while working at height
- Appropriate use of fall protection and its accessories.
- Different types of body harness, and their suitability. This will help in the choice of the best body harness for the job; they could need harness with a single lanyard or a double lanyard.
If all these hierarchy of controls are adequately implemented, the hazards of working at height would have been greatly managed.