Working at height is unavoidable for many people as part of their daily job roles and it is essential that it is carried out correctly and in line with stakeholders responsibilities.
Statistics show that of the 137 fatal injuries to workers reported in 2016-17 nearly a fifth, 25, were the result of a fall from height. Furthermore, there were an estimated 30,000 further non-fatal injuries resulting from a fall from height (source: RIDDOR).
The trends follow that of previous years but by following some simple steps using a common sense approach these figures could be easily lowered. The guidance is out there, such as the Work at Height Regulations (WAHR) 2005, and is easily accessible and simple to understand.
If you control work at height for anyone you must ensure the work is properly planned, supervised and carried out by competent people. It also includes using the right type of equipment for working at height.
By adopting a pragmatic and simple approach work at height needn’t be a challenge and things to consider include the height of task, duration and frequency and the condition of the area being worked on. There will be low-risk situations where no particular precautions are necessary.
The hierarchy of control set out in the WAHR asks some basic questions enabling those controlling work at height what to consider before doing so.
- Avoid work at height where you can (PREVENT). Can the job be lowered to ground level?
- Where work at height can’t be avoided prevent falls from occurring (MINIMISE). Can you use a mobile elevating work platform (MEWP), scaffold tower or platform staging?
- If the risks of falling remains take sufficient measures to minimise the consequences should one occur (MITIGATE). Can airbags be installed close to the level of work, can a lanyard prevent a fall from occurring?