Working at heights: Hierarchy of control
Assess the risks of working at height and take the necessary measures to avoid accidents by following these steps:
1. Avoid working at height completely
Where possible, use a plant equipment at ground level rather than a roof, or change the equipment altogether.
Example: Use a 'reach and wash system' to clean windows instead of a ladder.
2. Prevent falls using a safe place to carry out work
If you can’t avoid working at height, then designate a 'safe place' where work can be carried out with minimal risks. Additional protective equipment should not be necessary as preventative measures are already in place in this space.
Example: A balcony or parapet.
3. Prevent falls using collective equipment
Install a permanent system that offers a passive solution for multiple workers, such as a physical barrier. This will allow them to concentrate on the job itself rather than the safety system.
4. Use personal protective equipment (PPE): Fall restraint
Fall restraint systems usually include an anchor point and lanyard which prevent workers from reaching a hazard.
5. Minimise the distance the worker could fall
If a fall cannot be avoided, then use collective equipment, such as airbags, to reduce the impact of the fall.
6. Minimise the impact of a fall
Use netting to soften the impact of the fall.
7. Use PPE: Fall arrest
Fall arrest systems should only be used as a last resort and you will need to undergo training to use these. If a worker falls, fall arrest equipment stops the fall before he hits the surface.
8. Minimise risk by undergoing training
Training should focus on safe working practices, as well as on the correct use of relevant equipment.
This article follows the 8 levels of control that Kee Safety have identified for working at heights.