Working At Height: Navigating the Hierarchy of Fall Protection

The Basics of Working at Height

Working at height refers to any task or activity performed with a risk of falling from one level to another, regardless of the distance.

This can include working on ladders, scaffolding, rooftops, elevated platforms, or any other raised surface. Working at height presents significant risks and hazards to workers and requires appropriate safety measures such as fall protection equipment and training to prevent accidents and injuries.

What are the common causes of falls?

There are several common causes of falls when working at height, including:

  1. Lack of proper fall protection equipment or inadequate use of such equipment
  2. Slippery, uneven, or cluttered surfaces
  3. Insufficient training and instruction on safe work practices
  4. Improper use of ladders or scaffolding
  5. Unsafe behaviour, such as rushing or taking shortcuts
  6. Adverse weather conditions, such as wind or rain
  7. Failure to properly secure tools and equipment

Employers must identify and address these potential hazards to prevent falls and ensure the safety of workers performing tasks at height. This can include providing appropriate safety equipment and training, maintaining a clean and organized workspace, conducting regular safety inspections, and promoting a culture of safety awareness among employees.

Statistics on injuries and fatalities

According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), falls from height continue to be one of the leading causes of workplace fatalities and injuries in the UK. Here are some statistics on falls from height in the UK:

  • In 2019/2020, there were 40 fatal injuries resulting from falls from height in the workplace.
  • Falls from height accounted for 29% of all fatal injuries to workers in 2019/2020.
  • In addition to fatalities, over 8,000 non-fatal injuries resulting from falls from height were reported in the same period.
  • The construction industry has an exceptionally high rate of falls from height, accounting for around two-thirds of all fatal falls in recent years.

These statistics highlight the importance of taking appropriate measures to prevent falls when working at height, including providing adequate training and equipment, conducting regular safety inspections, and promoting a culture of safety awareness among employees.

Hierarchy of Fall Protection

The fall protection hierarchy is a set of guidelines that prioritize using different safety measures to prevent falls from height. The first step is eliminating the need to work at height, using alternative methods or equipment.

If this is not feasible, collective measures such as guardrails or safety nets should be used. If these are insufficient, personal protective equipment such as harnesses and lanyards should be used as a last resort.

The hierarchy emphasizes the importance of taking a systematic approach to fall prevention. Each level builds upon the previous one to increase protection for workers at height. By following this hierarchy, employers can ensure that appropriate safety measures are in place to minimize the risk of falls and keep workers safe. It has four parts.

  1. Elimination: The first level involves eliminating the need to work at heights altogether. This can be achieved using alternative methods, such as extending tools or remote-controlled equipment.
  2. Fall Prevention: The second level is prevention, which involves preventing falls from occurring in the first place. This can be achieved through guardrails, safety nets, and covers.
  3. Fall Arrest: The third level is the arrest, which involves stopping a fall as it occurs. This can be achieved through personal fall arrest systems (PFAS) such as harnesses and lanyards.
  4. Rescue: Having a plan for emergencies: Rescue is essential to fall protection and should be included in a comprehensive fall protection plan. In the fall protection hierarchy, rescue is typically considered a component of the arrest level, which involves stopping a fall that has already occurred.

Choosing the Right Equipment for Fall Protection

Collective fall protection is a type of fall prevention that aims to protect multiple workers at once by using equipment or systems that prevent falls from happening in the first place. Here are some examples of equipment commonly used for collective fall protection:

Guardrails

Guardrails are physical barriers installed around a work area’s perimeter or on the roof’s edge. They provide a passive form of fall protection by preventing workers from accidentally walking or stepping off an elevated surface.

Step Over Platforms

Kee Step by Kee Safety: Safe and Secure Access to Roofs

Kee Step by Kee Safety is a range of modular, off-the-shelf step-overs that provide safe and secure access to roofs where obstructions exist. These step-over platforms are designed to accommodate changes in roof levels and offer a safe, anti-slip, level walking surface to access roof areas and safely walk across them.

Features of Kee Step

  • Safe and secure access to roofs
  • Anti-slip level walking surface
  • Adjustable step sections
  • Suitable for use on a variety of roof types and surfaces
  • Accommodates changes in roof levels

Kee Step is constructed from Kee Klamp Fittings, making it easy to install without welding or drilling. The standard kits provide a safe, anti-slip, level walkway on various roof types and surfaces, including concrete, asphalt, metal profiled sheeting, and membrane.

The adjustable step sections make it easy to customize the platform to suit your requirements. This means you can create a safe way to cross roof obstructions such as pipework, plant equipment, and conduits.

Kee Step Mini Step-Overs are also available for smaller obstructions. These mini step-overs are perfect for crossing low-level pipework or other small obstacles on the rooftop.

Why You Should Choose The Kee Step

The Kee Step Step-over is integral to a safe working environment when working at heights. With the proper understanding and use of guardrails, safety nets, and personal fall protection equipment, workers can ensure their well-being when engaging in any potential elevation hazard activity. In addition to the practical application of these laws and regulations, employers must remain vigilant in providing ongoing training and education regarding job-site Fall Protection policies. Employers can create safer work environments by utilizing the Kee Step Step-over and other Fall Protection hierarchy measures while ensuring their staff members are equipped with the skills necessary to avoid hazardous falls.