According to the International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates, approximately 6,400 people die from occupational accidents or diseases and 860,000 people are injured on the job every day. The biggest cause of fatal accidents in workplaces have been falls from height, from scaffolding, ladders, ropes, and access platforms.
Working at heights is work in which there is a risk of an employee falling from any height from, through, into, or onto a place or structure. A place is ‘at height’ if a person could be injured falling from it, even if it is at or below ground level.
Work activities and injuries associated with falls from height: Steel erecting; Fixing of cladding, roof work; Painting and decorating; Demolition and dismantling; Bricklaying; Scaffold erection; Electrical installation and maintenance; Welding; Inspection; Machinery maintenance; Stacking and storing etc.
Working safely at Height: You must put a plan in place, train to that plan, and then enforce it. 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. Minimize 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. Minimize 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. Minimize risk by undergoing training: Training should focus on safe working practices, as well as on the correct use of relevant equipment.
TÜV Middle East provides Work at Height training courses and it is available in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Oman.
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