Working at height is one of the most dangerous undertakings for workers in the UK, as demonstrated by recent Health and Safety Executive statistics. The statistics show that falls from height accounted for the highest proportion of fatal accidents in 2021-22.

It goes without saying, then, that working at height poses significant risks, and as such requires special attention in order to ensure the safety of employees, particularly in environments prone to construction accidents. This is just as true in administrative environments as it is in construction environments – but how can safety be ensured?”

Understanding “Working at Height”

Firstly, before addressing any specific safety solutions, it is essential to understand what is meant by ‘working at height’. According to the Work at Height Regulations 2005, the term ‘working at height’ refers to any task performed at a such a location where a person could be injured from falling.

This means someone can be working at height even if at or below ground level. Ledges and raised steps qualify, as do quintessential mechanisms for working at height such as ladders, scaffolding, and roofs. There is no specific height threshold at play.

Common Causes of Accidents When Working at Height:

What specific causes are at play when it comes to an accident at height? Some prevalent factors contributing to such accidents include: inadequate training; improper use of equipment; lack of edge protection; poor planning; and adverse weather conditions. Through identifying these specific causes, employers can focus on implementing effective solutions and meaningfully mitigating risk.

Solutions for Safer Working at Height:

Training and Competency

Any efforts to minimise risk should start with training. You should ensure that all workers who may be performing tasks at height receive comprehensive training on safety procedures, equipment usage, and emergency protocols. This should be carried out regularly, and workers should be regularly assessed on their knowledge to ensure they are protecting themselves and one another.

Proper Equipment and Tools

The right equipment can make all the difference for minimising risk; some items are not as suitable as others for purpose, such as step-ladders for reaching platforms over seven feet high. You should provide workers with suitable and well-maintained equipment, including personal fall protection systems, to account for this.

Guardrails and Railings

The most direct route to protecting workers at height is the installation of appropriate guardrails and railings around elevated work areas. Timber-based structures can provide physical barriers to outdoor gaps or holes, and prevent unexpected falls. For man-made and industrial structures, metal piping can be used to create guardrails.

Risk Assessment and Planning

Work at height does not necessarily look the same from site to site, or from business to business. It should be the case, then, that thorough risk assessments are conducted before commencing any work at height – particularly in newer locations. This enables you to identify potential hazards, evaluate the risks involved, and develop a comprehensive plan for the improved safety of worker teams. But we can all agree that accidents cannot be prevented. To know more on what to do in accidents like these, you can check here.

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