September 21, 2015

Are you managing Work at Height effectively?

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) is currently carrying out targeted inspections on refurbishment projects – and Working at Height is likely to be high on the list of enforcement.

HSE figures indicate that 45% of deaths on construction sites in Britain last year were as a result of falls from height and 581 workers suffered major injuries as a result of such a fall.

Good working practice and legislation requires employers to plan work at height and to give information to employees who are requested to work safely at height.

Poor working at height culture

Despite the looming dangers of Working at Height, many workers still avoid using suitable access equipment or fall prevention / protection systems.

Work at Height needs to be properly planned supervised and carried out by competent people with the skills, knowledge and experience who are suitably resourced including time to undertake the job safely.

A poor safety culture in a workplace is evident, when staff can walk past unsafe practices without challenging such practices, then you have little or no safety culture. And therefore the elimination of costly accidents, may not take place.

Preventing falls from height

Any hierarchy of control that you employ to minimise the risk of falls from height should take the following into consideration:

  • The overriding rule should be to avoid work at height where possible
  • Use work equipment or other measures to prevent falls where you cannot avoid working at height
  • Where you cannot eliminate a fall there is a need for work equipment or other measures to minimise the distance and consequences

If the fall protection is a nuisance for workers, they are significantly less likely to use it. Take short cuts and put themselves and other at risk. It’s is important to ensure that the correct and most appropriate control measures are selected to ensure workers use these correctly.

Badly planned and supervised Work at Height activities are deemed to be a serious breach of health and safety legislation.

Falls from height often result in life changing injuries or death and the HSE take enforcement of this are seriously.  Failure to manager Working at Height can lead to;-

  • Issue of a prohibition notice which stops work until it can be completed safely (HSE).
  • Fees for Intervention (HSE cost Recovery at £124 per hour)
  • Prosecution

Ask yourself how often you witness inappropriate Work at Height and walk away? If you need further advice on this topic, you can contact us or check out our handy employer resources section.

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About the author

Eamon Griffin