4 Tips for Safely Working at Heights

Working at heights is an extremely dangerous activity that can lead to major personal injuries or even death.

If you’re a PCBU, it is your responsibility to ensure that your employees are safe and secure at the workplace. Within reason, you must eliminate or minimise all the foreseeable risks that they might encounter.

As a result, if a worker needs to complete a job at a hazardous height, you need to make sure that they’re using the proper equipment and are following the regulations laid out by Safe Work Australia.

To help you do this, we’re going to discuss four tips for safely working at heights.

  1. Conduct a proper risk assessment

Before you do anything else, it’s important that you assess the task at hand.

Perhaps the first thing you should consider is whether or not working at a hazardous height is necessary. Is the task urgent? Will the task be able to wait until you’re able to develop a ground-level foundation upon which the workers can operate? As a rule of thumb, the more often you can delay or avoid working at heights, the better.

If the task is unavoidable, there are a lot of questions that you need to ask. How high does the worker have to go? What sort of equipment will they need? What are the injuries that they might suffer? What sort of surfaces will they have to negotiate with? Will pedestrians be affected?

You will need to ask all these questions in order to prepare the tools, the materials, the equipment and the training needed to conduct the job safely.

As much as you can, try to identify all the possible risks before starting the task. This extensive preparation will significantly reduce the likelihood of something going wrong.

  1. Have the proper PPE

Anyone working at heights is legally required to wear the proper personal protective equipment (PPE). This includes hard hats, safety boots, hearing protection and hi-vis clothing.

When it comes to safety harnesses and fall arrest devices, you need to make sure they’re installed and anchored by a trained worker.

As a PCBU, it’s your responsibility to provide most of this equipment to all your employees. It’s also essential that you maintain the condition of these items and repair or replace them when necessary. Certainly, faulty equipment can lead to personal injury or death. Due to this, inspections must be done regularly.

  1. Set up fall prevention devices

Once the PPE is sorted, you need to ensure that you have all the necessary fall prevention devices. The most common ones include elevating work platforms, safety nets and handrails.

It’s also worth noting that one of the most vulnerable times for a worker is when they’re going up or down an elevated platform. Because of this, you need to make sure they have safe and secure access to high areas. Access platform systems such as scaffolding, scissor lifts and cherry pickers are great alternatives to regular ladders.

To further ensure the safety of your workers, make sure that you hire or purchase equipment from reliable and trusted suppliers. Additionally, similar to PPE, you must also conduct regular inspections and maintenance work to ensure that the equipment is in good working condition at all times.

  1. Run extensive training sessions

Everyone working at heights needs to be fully trained. New employees need to know how to use the equipment safely, what to do in case of an emergency, and how to recognise potential hazards.

For experienced employees, regular revision training is also necessary. This will ensure that they don’t become complacent when it comes to safe work practices. In addition, revision sessions are perfect whenever there are new government regulations or new technologies to discuss.

For employees working at heights, it’s ideal to always have a supervising work partner. A supervising partner will be able to quickly identify any hazards or errors that might put a worker in danger. This also gives workers peace of mind as they’re completing their assigned task.

As you can see, there are plenty of factors that you need to consider before allowing someone to work at hazardous heights. Certainly, working at heights should not be taken lightly. You must prepare, train and revise. You must always remain vigilant. If you have any concerns about working at heights, we recommend visiting Safe Work Australia’s website for advice as well as for more information on legal requirements.

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