With increased fatalities from falls from height, training has never been so important
Oct 18, 2023
The latest figures reported by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in its annual work-related fatal injuries report show that, sadly, falls from height killed more people than any other type of workplace accident last year, an increase of 11 on the previous year. For any tradespeople that work at height, there is an inherent risk, but while the risks can be great, Mark Robson, Product Manager at Werner, discusses ways to minimise the possibility of accidents and injuries.
While working at height might feel like second nature to some professionals, it can be easy to overlook simple yet vital safety practices when carrying out everyday jobs. Falls from height currently account for 30% of workplace accidents, with them also being the most common type of fatal work accident, therefore, it’s crucial that users follow best practice guidelines to make working at height both easier and safer.
Always invest in quality
When purchasing any equipment for a job that involves risk, it is always advised to invest in high-quality products that are sourced from reputable and trusted manufacturers. Cheaper equipment may not have been tested to the same standards as a certified and trusted manufacturer, therefore, may not guarantee the same level of safety.
Similarly, the same precautions should be taken with buying second-hand equipment. While the cheaper price may be tempting, buying any used safety equipment is always a risk, particularly if the product’s history is unknown, how it has been stored or if it has had any previous repairs or damages. Having to replace cheap or second-hand equipment more frequently is also costly, so it is always advised to invest in quality to guarantee longevity as well as safety.
Keep up to date with industry regulations
It can be challenging keeping on top of the latest safety guidelines and work at height regulations, which are continually being reviewed. When purchasing ladders, professionals should only invest in products that meet EN 131 standards, and with mobile access towers EN 1004-1:2020. The best way to ensure this is to take the time to research when sourcing products, and make sure that these are purchased only from trusted suppliers whereby products are manufactured to meet the latest industry standards.
When it comes to safe practice, professionals should ensure they always adhere to Work at Height Regulations 2005 and have a clear understanding of their responsibilities as an employer or employee when carrying out work. This could include conducting risk assessments, checking equipment is safe to use, ensuring the job about to be undertaken is safe and that the right equipment for the application is being used.
Moreover, as a rule, refresher training every year is highly advised in order to ensure that users understand and are adhering to the current operating safety procedures, especially for those who may carry out jobs from height on an infrequent basis.
Ensure equipment inspections are carried out accordingly
When using tools day in day out it can be easy to overlook the wear and tear of work at height equipment, therefore regular inspections should be carried out before each use to ensure its ongoing safety for users.
Potential faults that can come from age, exposure to the weather elements and excessive use could leave users vulnerable to injury if not checked properly. So, it is essential that inspections are carried out on equipment before each use to ensure it is safe, and that these are carried out by a professional who can identify problems early on.
The need for inspection and how frequently these occur should be determined through risk assessments on a job-by-job basis.
When it comes to working at height safely, selecting the correct equipment, ensuring that training is up to date and utilising best practice is vital, and if these considerations are looked at prior to starting a job, then hopefully many accidents can be preventable.
Last year, Werner launched its Stepping Up to Ladder Safety campaign in a bid to help professionals stay safe when working at height. Featuring a range of downloadable guides, the campaign helps to demonstrate best practice across a variety of different topics, from how to choose the correct ladder for the job, to how to inspect access equipment correctly.
To view Werner’s Ladder Safety Guides, please visit Stepping up to Ladder Safety.
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