Over 40% of workplace accidents in the UK happen at height and result in 35 fatalities every year, according to the Health and Safety Executive. The risks of working at height are so great that it’s even earned its own special name – elevated work – to distinguish it from other types of work activities. What are some of the most common hazards that you need to be aware of when working at height? Here are some of the most common hazards of working at a height using steel scaffolding north wales
1) Slips, trips and falls
People on scaffolding are at high risk of slips, trips and falls, which can lead to serious injuries or even death. It’s vital that you’re wearing proper footwear and that your feet have adequate grip on whatever surface you’re standing on. Ensure there is no debris on or around any worksite, as it could prove hazardous if you lose your footing.
2) Equipment failure
Before construction workers began working at height in earnest, many were killed by equipment failure. Scaffolding and ladders can get damaged, meaning they don’t support people as they should, leading to falls and injuries. Maintenance is key to preventing such accidents. Be sure to use scaffolding north wales professionals for all your requirements. If you want to keep yourself safe when working up high, it’s essential you find a reputable company with years of experience in scaffolding maintenance and repairs.
3) Structural failure
The most obvious and catastrophic problem associated with working at height is when a structure or scaffolding fails, causing someone to fall. If a structure isn’t up to code or has been badly constructed, it may collapse when weight is put on it. The main problem here is that if a body falls from high up, there’s no telling what will happen to them. The likelihood of surviving a fall from height decreases exponentially as you get higher off the ground.
4) Weather conditions
The weather is an obvious hazard when working in high places – for example, a stormy wind could blow you off your feet. And it’s not just wind; heat, cold and precipitation can all be dangerous. The problem isn’t necessarily that you get wet or cold; it’s that these conditions affect how steady you are and so how safely you carry out tasks.
5) Climbing techniques
From a distance, scaffolding might look like one uniform structure, but in reality it’s made up of many different types and sizes. Each individual section can be climbed depending on whether it’s single-sided or double-sided, meaning that a simple climb can become far more complex in practice.
6) Unsafe work practices
It’s possible to become complacent when working at height. It may be a job you’ve done many times before, but it doesn’t mean you can’t skimp on safety precautions. If a colleague is working next to you, talk them through each stage of your work and vice versa.
7) Poorly planned access routes
If your access routes aren’t prepared before work begins, there’s a good chance they’ll end up unsafe and pose a hazard to workers. Before you begin to erect scaffolding, make sure you have safe access in place.
8) Improper use of equipment
It is essential that work equipment, such as harnesses and lanyards, be used properly. In order to avoid potential accidents, you must know how to use and wear a harness correctly. Many people can’t tell which direction they should be facing when using equipment. The rule of thumb is to face your body toward an object or a part that you are working on rather than away from it. This allows you to always have your back against something secure in case something bad happens.
9) Lack of communication between workers on site
If a workman is tied up on one job, he may not be able to communicate with workers below to let them know that there’s something in their way and that they need to move it before continuing with their own job. When putting in scaffolding or accessing roofs, it’s vital that everyone communicates with each other so that no two people are working simultaneously on any one section of structure.
10) Failures in fall protection systems
Fall protection is essential when working at height, so it’s important to pick a solution that’s fit for purpose. For example, some fall arrestors don’t work well in certain conditions. If you’re going to be working outside or over water, a different type of fall protection will be necessary. Be sure to choose systems that are suitable for your needs and remember to follow all manufacturers instructions when installing them.