Minimising the risk of accidents on site
Jul 12, 2021
When working at height, it is important that employers and employees are both well informed on the steps they should take to ensure a safe working environment. Here, Sophie Ellam, Product Manager at WernerCo, discusses the crucial role that forward planning, inspection and training can play.
Over recent years, falls from height have frequently remained one of the most common causes of fatal injuries in the workplace, accounting for almost a third of all accidents recorded in the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) ‘Workplace Fatal Injuries in Great Britain 2020’ report.
To help minimise these accidents, it is crucial that health and safety professionals are taking the correct precautions to ensure that their employees have the right tools and knowledge to work safely.
With any job that involves working at height, it is important that time is taken to thoroughly consider how this will be safely undertaken.
When working at height, whilst a ladder may seem like the obvious choice, it may not actually be the right tool for the job. If you’ll be working at height for over 30 minutes, or where you cannot reach the required working height without overstretching, alternative access equipment such as an access tower should be used instead in line with HSE guidance.
Additionally, by taking into account any special requirements ahead of time, such as the need to work around electricity or over stairwells, employers will be better placed to ensure they are providing their employees with the correct tools and equipment to work safely.
When it comes to using a ladder, it’s easy for professionals to assume they are using their equipment in a safe way. However, there are several risks that employees can face every day and without proper training, they could unknowingly be putting themselves and others at risk of injury.
For any professionals working independently or in a workforce where staff are regularly using ladders, it is highly recommended that they undertake approved training such as the Ladder Association approved course offered by WernerCo, which is regularly held at both its Burton upon Trent and Maldon facilities throughout the year.
Inspection of tools and equipment should be an essential part of any employer’s routine, with a quick pre-use check being undertaken at the start of every job with more detailed inspections carried out at regular intervals.
By carrying out these checks, health and safety professionals can ensure that any tools or equipment being given to their employees to use do not have any damage that could impact the safety integrity of the product. When it comes to ladders, all working parts must move properly and all connections must be secure. Any ladder that has any missing, damaged or loose components must not be used.
For any health and safety professional looking for more information, the Access Industry Forum’s (AIF) Safety Steps handbooks are a good starting point. Created in conjunction with other work at height organisations, the handbooks include comprehensive advice for anybody using a ladder or specifying working at height equipment. This is done through handy flow charts and checklists, which operatives and managers can follow to make the correct safety decisions.
As well as taking careful considerations to ensure the correct tools and pieces of equipment are made available, both employers and employees have a responsibility to ensure their correct use. By enhancing their knowledge and following the guidelines set out by trade bodies, health and safety professional can play their part in helping reduce the number of accidents that occur when working at height.
T: 0121 454 9707
T: 0121 454 9707