What Does Working at Heights Mean?
Working at heights refers to any work that is done above ground level, such as on a roof or up a ladder. It can also refer to work done near edges, such as working on scaffolding or putting up signage.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), falls are the leading cause of death in the construction industry. In fact, one in four construction worker fatalities in 2018 were caused by falls.
Falls from heights are one of the most common causes of workplace injuries, so it's important for business owners to take precautions when their employees are working at heights.
The Dangers of Working at Heights
Working at heights doesn’t just refer to working on scaffolding or roofs. It also includes working on ladders, elevated work platforms, and any other time you might be above ground level.
If you have employees who work at heights, it’s important to be aware of the dangers they face and take steps to prevent accidents.
Falls are the leading cause of death among construction workers, as mentioned earlier. Falls from heights can occur when employees lose their balance, trip on debris or loose materials, or slip on a wet or icy surface.
They can also occur if scaffolding or another type of work platform collapses. To prevent falls, make sure your employees are properly trained on how to use safety equipment and follow all safety protocols.
Inspect equipment regularly to ensure it is in good working condition, and never allow anyone to work alone at heights.
Toppled equipment is another common hazard associated with working at heights. This can happen when ladders or scaffolding topple over because they weren’t properly secured, or when tools or materials fall from an elevated work platform.
To prevent toppled equipment accidents, make sure employees secure all ladders and scaffolding before use, and never allow anyone to stand on the top rung of a ladder.
Inspect elevated work platforms regularly to ensure they are in good condition and that all guardrails are intact.
Electrocution is yet another hazard that comes with working at heights. This can happen when workers come into contact with overhead power lines while working on roofs or using aerial lifts.
It can also happen if cords or tools come into contact with water while workers are using them near damp surfaces such as swimming pools or boats.
To prevent electrocutions, make sure employees stay clear of overhead power lines, and never allow them to operate aerial lifts near power lines.
If they must work near damp surfaces, have them use only cords and tools that have been tested for safe use in wet conditions.
How to Mitigate the Risks Associated with Working at Heights
While employers should try to minimize work at heights as much as they can, it’s often not reasonably possible. In such cases, employers must take steps to mitigate the risks associated with working at heights.
Train Your Employees in Proper Safety Procedures
This includes training on how to set up and use equipment properly, as well as how to identify and avoid hazards.
Make sure your employees know what to do in case of an emergency, such as a power outage or severe weather event. Regular safety meetings are a good way to remind employees of the importance of following safety protocols.
Provide the Proper Equipment
This includes items like harnesses, lanyards, and fall arrest systems. Make sure that all equipment is in good condition and that your employees know how to use it properly.
If something goes wrong while they're working at heights, you want to make sure they have the right tools to stay safe.
Conduct Area Inspections Before Work Begins
Remove any potential hazards, such as loose debris or exposed electrical wires. Make sure the area is well-lit and that there is a clear path for employees to get to their workstation.
Once work has begun, continue to monitor the area for any changes that could create risks for your employees.
Working at heights can be dangerous, but there are steps you can take as a business owner to keep your employees safe.
By training your employees in proper safety procedures and providing them with the right equipment, you can help reduce the risk of accidents and injuries.
Inspecting the work area before allowing work to begin is also essential in ensuring a safe environment for your employees.
Use EcoOnline to Reduce Risks While Working at Heights
EcoOnline’s Health & Safety Software allows organizations to capture, manage, and investigate incidents, especially while employees are working at heights.
EcoOnline is a modular, cloud-based solution that can be used to create, manage, and share work permits for employees working at heights, making sure that only authorized individuals with the appropriate training are allowed to work in situations that pose an elevated risk.