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Working with height safely: How to use risk assessment

23-07-2012

Photo shows scaffolding at a construction sitePeople who work high above the ground have a number of things to consider so that they stay safe. From telephone line workers to tree pruners to window cleaners, all personnel who must work high above the ground need the best, most stable access equipment for height.

Equipment that provides support and stability along with safe movement is generally considered ok according to government safety regulations. There are a number of factors that must be considered before signing up for a job that requires dangerous work like climbing up on sky scrapers to clean windows or cutting down high up branches of high trees. Conducting a risk assessment is extremely essential and here are some things to keep in mind.

Competence

Each worker tasked with working at a height needs to be trained for that particular job and he or she must have the right knowledge as well as experience. Untrained staff will not know how to use access equipment nor will they be able to identify or assess risks involved. For this reason it is very essential for workers to get the right amount of training and know the equipment they have to use, every time new tools or equipment is introduced, workers must spend time in training workshops for safe use.

Access Equipment

Most workers use a variety of access equipment to reach high areas of work. These range from steps, to ladders to mobile elevating work platforms. To stay safe it is very vital for workers to make sure they pick the right equipment for each task. To find out which equipment is right, visit the site of work a day or so before to make sure you know exactly how much height you need. MEWP’s can only be used in particular areas which are free of trees, traffic and other obstructive materials. When using equipment it is essential for workers to make sure that it has been checked, maintained and inspected and is fit for use by the staff heading out for the job. Check up on the toe rails and top rails on the MEWP you are about to use to ensure workers do not fall out.

Work Environment and Conditions

Mobile work platforms, ladders and other access equipment can become unstable according to the site of works conditions. From rain to snow to traffic to surrounding buildings, there are many factors that can make work more dangerous and can add instability to the access equipment. For this reason accessing the site for the dangers it poses is extremely important. Check the weather predictions before heading off to work and remember to cordon off the area from traffic to prevent any accidents. Additionally workers can contact governmental safety regulation bodies to find out more about their local area’s regulations regarding safety at height and how they can be accommodated.

Lastly it is vital to remember that safe working practices make you more professional and prevent fatal falls that can result in putting you out of the work force completely.

Kevin works for Promax access, where he oversees the safety training on some of the powered access mobile platforms.

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