What is working at height?
Working at height refers to any activity in which a person has the potential to fall and be injured. A ladder, a roof edge, a hole in the floor, and even a loading dock can be considered working at height. Here are ten safety tips to help reduce the risk of working at heights.
Whenever possible, use railings. Fencing is a form of passive protection, the easiest and most recommended way to keep your workers safe while complying. There is no need for training or additional equipment because they don't have to do anything to keep themselves safe (other than stay within the rail). There are railing systems for almost every roof style, such as non-penetrating roof railing, parapet railing, and metal roof railing, and they're all available at Parrotias shop. No matter what type you use, once installed, you will find bars to be the most accessible fall protection system.
1. Choose the right PPE.
If you use personal fall arrest systems (PFAS), you must make sure you choose the right equipment. All ANSI-compliant harnesses will perform the same, regardless of their cost. However, this price difference may give you something extra. Please do your research and determine what you need, and our Parrotias shop can be a place to start your search. Comfort is essential, but the main concern should be the ability to adjust the harness to fit the user and ensure it works as intended.
2. Inspect your protective equipment.
You have the hardware you need to provide a secure work environment. It doesn't matter if the systems are worn to the point where they fail. Harnesses and slings should be inspected at least once a year, if not more frequently, by a competent person (someone who knows to recognize the hazard and has the authority to deal with it). However, PPE should be tested by the user before each use. It is vital that anyone who may use the devices understand what they are looking for, what is acceptable and what is not, and what steps to take if a problem occurs. Checking before use should take little time but should be thorough. This step could be the difference between life and death.
3. Make sure you understand the drop distance.
You can put on all the fall protection in the world, but it's pointless if it doesn't work before you hit something. This may sound like a "common sense" statement, but you'll be surprised how easy it is to get this part wrong. It's not uncommon to go to a construction site or watch a maintenance crew in a factory and see a worker 10–12 feet above the ground with a 6-foot slow-down cable. While this appears to work at first glance, there are several reasons it will not.
4. Choose a suitable anchor point.
What is a good anchor point? This is a PVC pipe. And it's not a decorative piece of steel on the roof. An anchor point is only fair if:
It is designed and approved by a professional engineer who has calculated the expected loads or
It can support a 5,000-pound load.
Since many structures cannot withstand these loads, choose structural steel with proper beam clamping. Or, if installed correctly, a fabricated roof trolley or anchor.
5. Use the correct equipment for working at height (a scaffold, hoist, or ladder).
Just as harnesses are not universal, neither are fall protection solutions. In some situations, scaffolding will be the best solution for working at height. Depending on the lift type, you may or may not need to wear a full-body harness and lanyard. Other times, you will use a ladder, at which point the fall protection requirements become more complex. Ultimately, it's essential to understand your situation and what type of lift system is required, whether it's a ladder, scaffolding, car lift, stairwell protection system, or any other solution. If you still need clarification, you can visit Parrotias shop and look at your options.
6. Ensure the correct use of airlifts.
There are many reasons why something can go wrong while operating a lift so that I won't go into details. However, we need to discuss fall protection lifts. One thing that is quite often overlooked is that anyone in a boom lift must be adequately tethered at any time and any height.
"Properly anchored" means not only that they must be attached to a particular attachment point designed for the lift but also that they cannot wrap their sling around the rails and need a sling that moves to protect them at the height at which they operate (see fall distance above). With scissor lifts, things are different. While the site you work for or the facility/project owner may require you to tie down a scissor lift, this is not a regulatory requirement. However, even the slightest mistake can endanger your life. You may have forgotten to close the gate or secure the chain. One of the main steps to reduce your risk of falling is to keep both feet firmly on the work platform.
7. Use ladders properly.
Ladders are at the root of many industrial and commercial accidents because we take them for granted. Before using a ladder, consider whether it is the best solution for the task. Then make sure your employees are trained in the correct use of the ladder. It's more challenging than you think. There are three main concepts to remember when handling a ladder safely.
Extend the ladder 3 feet beyond the level you are climbing to.
Make sure you always have three points of contact with the stairs.
Two legs, one arm. Two arms, one portion. If you think about it, you don't carry something like a bucket up or down stairs. This will force you to break the rule of three. Find another means, such as pulling up by the rope after the transition or holding small items on your belt or in your pocket.
8. Know when and what type of fall protection is needed.
When considering when and what type of fall protection is required by OSHA, there are three factors: frequency, duration, and location.
Infrequent: work that is done once a month or less.
Temporary: simple, short-term tasks that take 2 hours or less to complete.
Place of work: After determining the frequency and duration, you will need to assess the location of work near the danger.
9. Train, train, train.
This has been mentioned in various paragraphs above, but it needs to be stressed more. If your employees want to work safely at height, they must be adequately trained. Not only is training required by law, but there is also too much room for error and confusion when it comes to a person trying to defend themselves from a height without the proper knowledge. Falls are a significant cause of death in the construction industry every year. But it's not just construction. Many people in various other sectors also die from fall accidents. Arm your employees with the knowledge they need to keep themselves safe.