The Dangers of Working From Heights: The Safety Procedures to Follow

Any work at height comes with an element of risk. With one in five serious accidents within the construction industry coming as a result of falls from height, there is a clear lack of understanding in regards to the safety procedures which should be followed.

Firstly, being ‘at height’ is defined as any place where a fall could injure the worker. So all roofing jobs are definitely within this category.

To limit the risk of accidents there are a number of regulations which must be followed. These regulations were set out in the ‘Working at Height Restrictions’ in 2005. These regulations are split into two parts: guidelines for employers and guidelines for employees.

The guidelines for employers covers these points:

  • Duty holders avoid working at height if possible.
  • They provide adequate safety equipment where it is possible to do so.
  • All work at height must be properly planned and weather conditions must be taken into account
  • All workers must be extensively trained in all dangers of working at height, including how to minimise injury if a fall does occur
  • Equipment must be properly maintained
  • Risks from working on fragile surfaces and falling objects must be controlled.

The guidelines for employees cover these points:

  • Report any faulty equipment to their line manager
  • Make sure to use any equipment provided in the manner they have been trained

Before any work at height is undertaken there should be a full risk assessment carried out by an appropriately trained person. Workers need to be sufficiently trained for the task which they are about to undertake. A method statement is the most common way of organising and controlling work at height.

When it comes to accident it is always best to look to avoid them in the first place.

There are plenty of methods of removing the need to work at height entirely, including long handled brushes for, including long handled tools, which allow you to work from ground level.

If it is possible to remove the need to work at height entirely then this option should be taken.

If it isn’t possible to remove the need to work at height then methods which prevent accidents are the next thing you should look into. Safety railings are a cost effective method of preventing falls, but they are not suitable for all types of roof. Making sure your staff are properly trained and supervised is the best method of preventing accidents.

However, no method of accident prevention is 100% foolproof. If the worst does happen then you should have methods of damage minimisation in place. Examples of minimisation devices include safety nets or air cushions.

The best way to remember these steps is:

  • Avoid
  • Prevent
  • Minimise

Does anyone have anything to add about safety when working at height?

This piece was written by Mark Enright, a writer for Beddard Roofing, specialist roofing contractors.