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Essential Guide to Working at Height

Jan 18, 2018 | 0 comments

When it comes to the hierarchy of accidents in the workplace, working at height has the ignominy of consistently ranking as the number one cause. Over recent years concerted efforts have been made to address this, but it remains a major issue and one which only training across the board, for employees and managers alike can address.

The two major accreditors of working at height training in the UK are PASMA and IPAF, both industry standard and responsible for overseeing a wide range of exceptional training courses in the UK.

JW Simpkin Ltd exemplify the vast spectrum of industries that needs working at height training. They are fire protection specialists who ensure that their employees are trained on courses provided by both PASMA and IPAF in order to meet site safety measures when delivering their services of fire protective boarding and intumescent painting of structural steelwork.

In terms of the kinds of businesses that need to ensure that their employees and managers are trained in safe working at height, it’s a case of how long is a piece of string. However, the industries most at risk tend to be the building trade, telecommunications, roadwork operations, decorating and window cleaning and warehouse operations. Of course there are multiple other industries that are affected. There are training courses for managers that help them understand the risks of a particular site in particular conditions and how to plan to make sure best practice is adhered to. In some ways this is just as important as ensuring those actually up on a big cherry picker are fully trained.

Ensuring that employees are fully trained is inarguably the first step towards risk mitigation. You can give everyone the top of the line Personal Protective Equipment, but if they don’t understand when conditions make it too risky to even attempt working at height, such items can be utterly useless. Before looking at all of the more specific and in some ways selfish reasons why training is important it is vital to bear in mind that according to the Health and Safety Work Act of 1974, all employers have a duty of care to ensure all employees and visitors to their premises are kept safe.

It may seem blindingly obvious, but the better trained employees are in safety procedure, the easier it is for them to focus on their jobs and become more productive. Jobs will take up less time and become more streamlined. While the initial outlay for training programmes may seem costly, employers can reap the rewards in many ways. In fact, money can be saved in the long run. Imagine the legal fees, reputational damage and fines that could be incurred should an employer be found to be at fault or negligent after a fatal accident? Yes, there should be a moral obligation, but even the hardest of business noses should appreciate the potentially damaging financial implications. It is also worth noting that contracts are starting to be withheld from under-trained organisations as it is not worth the risk of any negative publicity an accident could bring.

Finally, everyone wants to work in a happy working environment and studies show that when employees are confident in their safety and ability to adapt to different working conditions they are much happier in their roles, leading once again to better productivity and morale.

call us now:

0344 693 3303

call us now:

0344 693 3303

Eagle Platforms Ltd
Ryton Road, Anston
Sheffield, S25 4DL

Registered in UK & Wales 07665934

Eagle Platforms Ltd
Ryton Road, Anston
Sheffield, S25 4DL

Registered in UK & Wales
07665934

Working at height continues to dominate the accidents in the workplace statistics, despite great improvements in numbers owing to a huge campaign to ensure adequate training is given to managers and employees alike. The importance of working at height training cannot be overstated and IPAF accredited training courses are now firmly established as industry standards. Those employers who do not comply with regulations are being given the cold shoulder.

Assessing risk

Risk assessment is a vital component in any strategy to promote safe working at height. Every situation must be assessed on its own merit on any given day. All sites differ in topography, environment, aspect and weather conditions fluctuate so often – especially in the UK – that a risk assessment is only as good as the day it was carried out.

It is essential that the following variables are recognized in any risk assessment:

  1. Is there a risk of falling objects to those below MEWPs (Mobile Elevating Work Platforms)?
  2. Is the MEWP fit for purpose? Are those operating it fully trained?
  3. Are there any hazards below that could worsen any injuries resulting from a fall (e.g. spiked fences or concrete)
  4. Is there any hazardous weather forecasted?
  5. What is the maximum height from which a fall may occur? Can this be reduced?

essential guide to working at height

By far the best way to mitigate against accidents resulting from working at height is to ensure that everyone along the chain of command has been provided with the level of training that is relevant to them. For instance there are IPAF accredited courses for operators of MEWPs as well as for managers, teaching them to safely co-ordinate various types of Mobile Elevating Work Platforms. Adequate supervision and instruction are both key factors in safe practice. All risks should be made clear to all employees prior to starting on a job.

Injury prevention

It cannot be overstated that all injury prevention begins with careful planning, risk assessment and appropriate training in courses accredited by IPAF. Let’s assume that the correct training has been meted out and all risk assessments have taken place. What next? Well, the ideal scenario is to find an alternative option to working at height, but if this is an impossibility then it must be made clear that the amount of time spent at height should be kept to the bare minimum and while employees are on MEWPs or other static platforms r work areas they should keep all tools to hand to avoid unnecessary trips on ladders. Appropriate clothing (never loosely fitted) should always be worn and the relevant PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) can help. Guard rails on work platforms are ideal and as an extra safety measure, fall arrest cable systems can be very useful. The edges of any platform used for working at height should be clearly marked out and there should be measures to ensure pedestrians don’t unnecessarily pass below those working high up. Ensuring that platforms and ladders are safely situated is key. MEWPs must be on even ground and ladders should always be at a right angle and appropriately secured.

To arrange a free on site consultation with our IPAF Training Manager Don Horsley, please call 0114 2695909, or email Don training@eagleplatforms.com