How Safe Are You Working At Height?
By Maureen Eziuche
Whether you work at height everyday or just once in a while, your safety focus during those times is of utmost importance.
Truth is, it takes one mistake to turn a routine work at height task into a fatality.
Working at height refers to any work that’s above ground such as cleaning or painting a high-rise building, to installing a mast etc Or it could be working below ground in which a person could fall and sustain injuries if no proper precautions are taken.
Working at height remains one of the biggest causes of occupational fatalities and major injuries. cases commonly involve over-reaching, over balancing or the failure of a fragile surface .
Workers in maintenance and construction are particularly at risk but many other people in a variety of jobs could also be at high risk of falling from heights such professions include; painters , decorators , window cleaners and those who carry out ad hoc work without proper training, planning or equipment.
Whatever the task may be, any working at height needs to be planned in advance, with careful consideration given to the selection and use of work equipment and means of escape in an emergency. For example, If a fall occurs, the consequences will depend on many factors such as distance fallen, the nature of the surface landed on, how the person landed, age and health of individual.
The severity of the injury is increased for example, when the fall is into a moving vehicle or machinery or into a tank which contains hazardous substances.
HSENations sought the comment of Mr Cyril Okoye a work at height expert , he said to ensure the safety of the employees whose role is to be up there, employers must select proper PPE (personal protective equipment ) , inspect the PPE, ensure they understand fall distance, wear gloves , ensure they have good helmets ladders , overall, boots etc.
It’s the responsibility of both employer and the personnel to ensure right selection of acceptable anchor points , use ladders properly.
There are also cradles that are used to work with in this profession
-suspended platform cradle which can take 2-3persons.
-out rigger platform cradle which can only take 1 person.
-scaffold platform cradle (this is about 20 metered wide) and can take upto 5 persons.
In addition he said it’s studied in school but once employed the employee must learn it as a skill practically to be able to understand the DO’s and DON’T ‘s and also the safety ethics of the profession.
Where the safety of work at height equipment performs depend on how its installed or assembled. For example, scaffolding should be inspected before use.
Where work equipment is exposed to conditions causing it to deteriorate could lead to dangerous situation. It should be inspected at suitable intervals and each time exceptional circumstances occurs that could jeopardize its safety.