Revolutionising Working From Height
Working from height is the third biggest health and safety risk on construction sites – a risk that workers face on a daily basis. Our Managing Director, Ross, says that preventative measures need to be put in place to protect workers’ lives.
In 2017/18, 35 fatal injuries to workers were due to falls from a height. The construction industry had a high track record of accidents from contractors working on floor joist and roof trusses, where they had no protection from falling through one or two floors onto a concrete slab.
The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 came into force in the UK to regulate and implement workplace health, safety and welfare.
The Work at Height Regulations were then put in place in 2005 to prevent death and injury caused by a fall from height, placing an importance on the profession and the health and safety of workers.
Minimising falls from height – three vital steps
Whilst new technologies and innovative equipment may have minimised falls and enhanced the level of height access, employers need to understand the risks of working from height and what preventative steps they need to implement. There are three vital steps to follow:
STEP ONE – PLAN
A risk assessment must be conducted in advance in order to decide what realistic fall protection is available. Remember risk is a combination of two factors – likelihood and severity; how likely is the person to fall and how bad will the consequence of the fall be?
Your risk assessment should include the following:
- Identify and assess the risks.
- Decide on the precautions required. Your objective is to ensure work at height is properly planned, supervised and carried out in a safe manner.
- Record the significant findings.
- Review the assessment and update if necessary.
STEP TWO – PROVIDE
Over 60% of deaths during work at height involve falls from ladders, scaffolds, working platforms, roof edges and through fragile roofs.
Regardless of whether you are a construction product specifier or a health and safety manager, protecting workers on site – including minimising falls – is a shared responsibility.
One way to minimise risk is to shift away from alternative methods such as birdcage scaffolding and guardrail systems. Many tower scaffolding systems are poorly erected and misused leading to a number of accidents each year. If a worker was to fall from height from a tower scaffold, they are likely to suffer from a major or fatal injury as a result of landing on a hard surface such as concrete.
However, fall arrest bags minimise the risk of injury as they are designed to provide a safe cushioned landing, absorbing the weight of a fall without causing major injury or fatility.
These types of systems can be used in timber framed developments, concrete buildings, traditional brick-built properties, scaffolding, lorry beds and many other uses outside of construction.
Using fall arrest bags, such as our Impact-Bull Air Cushion, allows workers to confidently work harness-free – giving them greater freedom to move around and handle tools and materials.
For extra practicality, our fall arrest bags are prefilled with pockets of air, making them far easier and quicker to install than birdcage scaffolding. Installation time for a plot takes approximately 15 minutes using the air cushion systems. On the other hand, it takes hours of labour to erect scaffolding or decking systems, not forgetting the enormous costs of installation, training and initial outlay or ongoing hire costs.
Where possible, companies should be choosing fall arrest systems to provide workers with the maximum amount of freedom and movement when working at height, without compromising on their safety. By opting to implement fall arrest systems, we can enhance site safety, minimise the risk of future falls and protect workers’ lives.
STEP THREE – TRAIN
Training is crucial for employees and should be high on your agenda. You should make sure that employers with sufficient skills are trained to work from height and can confidently test equipment, such as fall arrest systems.
Remember to check in with employers every now and then to ensure they are happy with the training they are getting and that they feel safe when working at height.
To find out more about the Impact-Bull Air Cushion, contact Bull on 01432 371170 or visit www.bullproducts.co.uk
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