The hierarchy of control refers to the list of safety measures which need to be put in place in order to ensure a safe working environment.
Most accidents are a result of the correct precautions not being taken, leaving the worker vulnerable in some way. These precautions can be broken down into 8 levels to demonstrate the thought process behind working at height, with avoiding this kind of work being the preferred option.
However, this is not always possible.
Avoid working at height
This could be done by locating plant equipment at ground level rather than on a roof, or changing working practices such as using a reach and wash system to clean windows rather than a ladder.
Prevent falls using the existing workplace
If working at height can’t be avoided use an existing safe place to carry out the work. This should be where additional protective equipment is not needed and there is no risk of falling because preventative measures are already in place, such as a balcony or parapet.
Prevent falls using collective equipment
Such as guarded platforms or edge protection to prevent falls.
Prevent Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
The final measure in preventing falls from height is to use Personal Protective Equipment such as a fall restraint system. This system typically includes an anchor point and lanyard adjusted or set to a fixed length to prevent the user reaching a hazard.
Minimise distance using collective equipment
If a fall cannot be avoided then the consequences of a fall must be mitigated. Collective equipment such as airbags placed beneath the work area reduce the distance the worker could fall.
Minimise consequences using collective equipment
This differs to Level 5 as netting can be used to soften the impact of a fall over a greater distance.
Minimise distance using PPE
Personal protective equipment such as a fall arrest system should only be used as a last resort and by those who are trained to use them. Systems generally consist of an anchor point, connector such as a lanyard and a fully body harness (not a waist or chest belt). If the user falls, the system arrests the force and decelerates them through a short distance.
Minimise consequences through training and instruction
Anyone working at height must have sufficient training and instruction in order to carry out the task competently. Training should include safe working practices and on the correct use of equipment in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations.
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Hopefully this Hierarchy of Control can be useful to you in assessing the risks involved in working at height, while putting preventative measures in place to counteract any dangers. Falls from height are still a major cause of serious injuries and fatalities. Here at Skyway, our advice is free. Give us a call today on 046 92 41771 and let us guide you in making decisions which could have a major impact on your own, or someone else's well-being.
Alternatively, you can send us a few details about your project and we can give you a call.