Working at Height

Those of you who are familiar with our newsletter will know that the most commonly pros-ecuted offence relating to any work place injury is to do with working at height.

I wanted to focus on 3 features of the working at height regulations that sort of go unno-ticed, and hence not provided.

Danger areas, and rescue plan

The work at height Regulations make it clear that when working at height we must prevent anyone or anything falling, or when that is impossible or impracticable then we must mitigate the consequences of a fall, such as the use of air bags, safety nets, safety harnesses.

But often overlooked is “ danger areas”, this requires the provision of a safety exclusion zone below the work area, this can be a physical hard barrier to prevent others from entering a danger area , where they may be struck by a falling object, or a Banksman can be posted at ground level who can warn people to keep away at a safe distance.

Rescue plan
Anyone who used a mobile elevated work platform ( MEWP) commonly known as cherry pickers will know that:

a) You must be competent, i.e. trained and licensed to operate it as defined by Ipaf
b) A rescue plan must be produced such that in the event of a person getting into some difficulty when operating the machine they are unable to return to the ground and in order to do so need the assistance of others.

The rescue plan should identify the steps to be taken to lower a person safely to ground due to immobility of some kind, or suspended from the basket by their safety harness.

Some plans may recognise the need for additional equipment, or may simply to contact the local emergency services.
Each plan will be determined by the circumstances of the job, but significantly all persons involved with the job must know and understand how to implement the plan effectively

Preventing or mitigating a fall may be required in certain unconventional circumstances such as when standing on a lorry trailer bed, or above a deep shaft or excavation into which you can fall from or into, even delivery vehicles with a tail lift are technically classed as “ working at height”.

A recent case in question:-
An Employee was injured when he fell from a lorry bed whilst unloading the lorry.
The fall resulted in multiple fractures of his head, ribs, shoulder blade and fingers, caus-ing him to miss over five months of work.

Investigating, the HSE found the company had failed to provide employees with suitable and clear instructions and training so that employees did not access lorry beds in an un-safe manner.

The Employer pleaded guilty of breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company was fined £9,400 and ordered to pay costs of £1,680.75.

Speaking after the case HSE Inspector said: “Falls from vehicles can be overlooked by employers when considering risks from work at height. Simple measures would have pre-vented this accident.”

Take a peak at our Working at Height Module, included in our CDM Duties Online Training Course.

The aims of the course are to ensure safety requirements are appreciated, provide the skills to critically review their own departmental systems for safety, and identify opportunities to introduce new controls or implement changes as appropriate to make their department work more safely.

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