Guide to Safety When Working at Height

By Holly Shaw

Posted Jun 16th, 2020 in Tips & News

Falling from heights is one of the biggest causes of workplace injuries and deaths. According to Canadian Civil Engineering Magazine, in 2018 33.5% of all deaths in construction were due to falls. Due to the severity of accidents involving heights, it is important to work safely when working at heights.

Working at height is classified as working high enough that could cause a serious injury if one falls. Working at height does not count working on stairs. Most common examples of working at heights would be classified as work completed on roofs, ledges, steel structures and towers using ladders, scaffolds and aerial work platforms several metres above ground level.

This article outlines common causes of accidents when working at heights, particularly roofs, and how to avoid falling accidents.


Most Common Causes of Accidents When Working at Height

There should be measures in place to prevent accidents. Guardrails, anchors, safety harnesses that are fitted correctly, along with any other necessary protective equipment should be in place to ensure one’s safety. Whilst accidents can happen at any time, simple steps to protect the safety of your workers should always be taken.

For David Rowland, Head of Marketing at Engage EHS, any business person worth their salt will have an in-depth knowledge of health and safety policy and practice. This is because health and safety is not only an end in itself, it is a means to an end towards a more efficient business that has an improved bottom line and greater brand loyalty amongst consumers.

 When working on a high-risk site, such a roof or floor deck , one should consider fragile surfaces, such as:

  • Slates and shingles
  • Rotted wood decking
  • Unsecured temporary floor sheeting
  • unguarded apertures
  • Corroded metal sheet
  • Non-reinforced cement sheets
  • Liner panels on sheeted roof
  • Roof sky lights
  • Safety Guard rails not yet installed
One should work from the ground whenever possible, simply to avoid the accidents from heights. If working from heights is necessary, ensure that the access to the heights is safe, well-marked and maintained, and easy to access only for your workers. Keep equipment in good working order and that it is checked regularly. And always provide helmets or suitable protection from falling objects.

Things to Consider when Working at Heights

When working at heights, one should take into consideration a variety of circumstances.
  • Suitability. To work at heights, one should be competent, trained, and suitably comfortable to work at heights. They should be trained and educated or under the supervision of someone who is experienced at working at heights.
  • Don’t overload. Keep the ladders clean and clear from obstructions that could cause accidents. Instead, use equipment to carry items up to the heights safely.
  • Weather conditions. Before working on a roof or something similar, one should be aware of weather conditions that may make working conditions unsafe.
  • Check for safety. Before sending any workers up, the conditions should be checked to make sure the area is safe and sturdy. It must be checked regularly, probably daily if workers are going to be working at heights on a daily basis.
  • Assess the risks. Consider the height of the task and the circumstances of the heights. If it is reasonably practical to avoid working at heights, then it should be avoided. Otherwise, follow safety precautions and procedures.
  • Plan for emergencies. Have a set plan in case of emergencies. Think up a procedure for evacuation, bad weather, and more. Ensure that all the workers are aware of the procedures.
  • Keep the job site safe. Things such as scaffolding, bricks, boards, and more should be stored safely and contained, so they cannot fall or be knocked over and injure people. Additionally, plan out work specifically, and have workers and areas supervised at all times to ensure safety and that guidelines are being followed.
  • Use common sense. Don’t lean ladders against uneven surfaces or weak surfaces. Don’t overuse ladders or stepladders. If heavy work needs to be completed, find suitable ladders or scaffolding to do the job.

Equipment Involved when Working At Heights

Selecting the right equipment is important because it keeps the work moving at a suitable pace and it keeps the workers safe. Using a stepladder instead of a ladder, could cause even a small fall if someone can’t reach the heights they require or they’re unsteady and get knocked over. There are a variety of resources available to help you choose the correct equipment for each job, and when in doubt, use common sense.

While working at heights can be dangerous, following procedures can help make it safer. Using the right equipment, and being very careful about all the circumstances and equipment involved can make working at heights considerably safer.

Workplace Safety Group is a leading supplier of CPO approved Working at Height Training in the Niagara area. Our CPO approved course addresses safe work practices and procedures as specified in Regulations empowered by the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act and the MLTSD (Ministry of Labour, Training & Skills Development) plus applicable Federal regulations. All instructors have successfully completed and are certified under the WSG Quality Assurance Policy (Pro 36017). We provide Working at Heights training sessions as open enrolment courses as well as closed groups at your worksite, or your place of business six days a week.

Interested? Then call us at 1.866.347.7707 and speak to one of our safety consultant.

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