When working at heights, certain precautions should be taken to ensure the safety of workers. The most important factor is to stick to are the basic rules and standards set out by the Ladder Association, Health & Safety Executive in the UK, and OSHA in the USA. These include ensuring that all ladders and steps used are in good condition. Never climbing higher than the third rung of a ladder from the top and wearing proper fall protection or harnesses where necessary.
Workers should also ensure their environment is safe before beginning any work at height. This includes inspecting ladders for signs of wear or damage, making sure that all surfaces are clear of obstructions, and selecting appropriate ground support material if needed. Additionally, workers should avoid overcrowding working areas as this increases the risk of slips and falls from heights.
When using ladders, it is essential to ensure they are deployed correctly and safely. This includes ensuring the leaning ladder is placed on stable ground with its stabiliser fully extended. When placing the ladder against a wall or support structure, the ladder needs to be at an angle of one foot out for every four feet up. Lastly, check for loose parts or components before use. It is also essential that workers maintain three points of contact while climbing a ladder—keeping both hands free to climb helps prevent slips or falls from occurring.
Another key element for ladder safety to consider when working at heights is PPE (personal protective equipment). All personnel must have access to safety helmets, gloves, boots with good soles, where necessary, high-vis clothing for work in low-light environments, hearing protection when required due to noise levels on site, and any other items specified in their risk assessment form.
It’s also important that employers provide adequate training on how to work at heights safely. This should include instruction on the different types of ladders and steps available. Instruction should be given on how this equipment can be used, along with the risks associated with each. For example, falling objects or tools left on platforms, which could cause injury if kicked off. Scaffold towers must be built correctly following the manufacturer guidelines and regularly checked by someone who is qualified.
Ultimately employers and their workers must take responsibility for their safety when working at heights – the best starting point is to ensure that your team are correctly trained to work from height. TB Davies offers a range of safety training courses from the Ladder Association and PASMA. We have training courses taking place every month. Contact our sales team for more details of the next working at height training course or find out the nearest class in your area.