Five things all employees need to know about working at heights safely

June 9, 2016

Five things all employees need to know about working at heights safely!

Working at heights has inherent hazards and risks.  Workers should consciously take safe and preventive measure to protect themselves and their co-workers from accidental falls and injuries.  Here are five things you need to know and consider when you want to work at heights safely.

1.     Choose the right safety equipment.

The working-at-height market is flooded with varied safety equipment and suppliers.  When planning for the process or job, determine what the jobs needs are and ensure that you are using the correct equipment for the task. Be sure to confirm the equipment is CSA certified and rated for the task. You may require straps, carabiners, anchor connectors, self-retracting devices, safety rope, rope grabs, etc.

2.     Make sure you know how to use your equipment.

Sometimes injuries and accidents happen because people do not really know how to use their safety equipment. There are pieces which they do not know how to fasten or some are installed incorrectly. Always read the manufacturers operating instructions and communicate with your supervisor if you are unsure, NEVER assume!!  Your supervisor is responsible for ensuring that you are trained and competent in the safe use, care and maintenance of safety equipment.  Remember, all WAH equipment is to be inspected and deemed safe to use by a competent worker prior to use and harnesses should be “snug” fitting to minimize travel in an arrest situation and potential injury.

3.     Follow the safety rules and regulations

Every Province, Country and some companies enforce relevant rules and regulations concerning working at heights differently. These rules are meant to protect and help you ensure your safety. It is important that you inform yourself of the specific rules for the job you are working at so that you know firsthand the standards required for any safety equipment that you need to use or protocols you need to follow. Be aware of the safety rules and standards in your customer’s location but remember that you must follow the relevant legal requirements first and foremost.

4.     Never underestimate the risks.

Always equip yourself with the correct safety equipment when working at heights. You do not have to be standing on really tall buildings, towers or scaffolding before you should start thinking of safeguarding yourself. In fact, more accidents happen when people are at 2 meters high than when they are at 20 meters and above. Lower heights can make you feel safer so you underestimate hazards and safety risks. Remember to consider hazards below you including sharp or jagged materials, equipment, and machinery in operation, water, electricity, or chemicals for example. Complete a hazard assessment and put the appropriate controls in place to protect yourself and co-workers before you start working at heights.  Always be sure that you are tied off at all times when working at heights and where possible use two lanyards connected to separate restraint, restrict or arrest systems.

5.     Know your rescue plan

Written rescue procedures are required to be developed by the employer before workers use any fall arrest system or safety net on construction projects. Rescue procedures ensure that a fallen worker is rescued as soon as possible without causing injury or putting the rescuers at risk. Be sure that you understand the fall arrest rescue procedures, including what to do if you are the person requiring rescue, before working at heights begin.  Communicate with your supervisor to ensure that the rescue plan has been communicated and the required equipment is on site and available should a fall arrest situation arise, such as elevating work platforms, extension ladders and fall arrest rescue kits.  This is all part of your initial Job Hazard Analysis with this being a control method.

Always remember, don’t be afraid to ask questions or ask for help.  Contact your supervisor, project manager or health & safety officer for assistance.

Five things all employees need to know about working at heights safely