With 2019 finally upon us, the start of the year feels like the right time to re-evaluate and inspect the safety precautions we take when working at height. The construction industry is no different to any other in that it continues to evolve, with alternative, more efficient ways of carrying out works.
Improving Safety Methods With New Initiatives
Construction safety methods are naturally also improving while trying to keep up to date with new initiatives. This involves creating new safe access systems, while also polishing up and improving already established systems and looking to advance them at all times.
Training And Safety Awareness
Training and safety awareness still plays a crucial role in keeping workers safe. This helps to make them aware of their responsibilities to protect themselves and others around them, while at the same time providing them with the resources to do so.
The 3 Steps To Safety
While new safety measures are consistently being rolled out, the 3 main steps still remain the same:
Avoid working at height wherever possible. This can be achieved by placing equipment such as plant and machinery at ground level or looking to find a way of maintaining building surfaces from the ground.
If working at height cannot be avoided, everything possible should be done to prevent the chances of a fall. This can be achieved by:
- Using the existing workplace. This would need to be incorporated in the design of the building, such as including a balcony or parapet.
- Putting collective protection in place such as roof guardrail.
- Using fall restraint cable systems to prevent the worker from falling over the edge. This needs to be achieved with the correct PPE with the worker being fully trained in how to use it correctly.
The term minimise refers to taking whatever other steps are necessary to protect workers in the event of a fall happening. This can be done by minimising the distance of a fall and thus mitigating the consequences. Harnesses and lanyards can also be used to prevent the worker from hitting the ground (fall arrest), though in this case a rescue plan needs to be in place beforehand.
Under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Construction) Regulations 2013, there are a number of parties who have legal duties with regards a construction project. These include the client, project supervisor(design process), designers, project supervisor(construction stage) and contractors.
5 Requirements For Duty Holders
- All work should be properly planned in advance
- Everyone involved with working at height should be competent
- Risk assessments need to be completed to determine the dangers and the required equipment
- The proper controls need to be in place to minimise the risks
- All safety systems and equipment (such as PPE) need to be maintained and inspected to ensure that it is up to standard.