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What are the Dangers of Working at Height?

The construction industry deals with building better, stronger, newer buildings and structures. So, of course, this often means taller too, and so no construction worker should be a stranger to working at heights.

But the dangers of working at heights can often be downplayed and glossed over, as it is considered standard practice. With it being a standard of the job, appropriate working-from-heights training can sometimes be overlooked.

We have put together a comprehensive guide on the importance of working at heights and highlighting why up-to-date training is essential.

What does Working at Height Entail?

Firstly, let’s go over what working at height means and what it entails.

According to the HSE, working at height is defined as any location where a person works and may be at risk of falling. So, no matter how short or tall the height, if the construction worker could potentially fall and suffer from personal injury, this is working at height.

What is Considered to be Working at Height

If you are working under any of the following circumstances, then you are classed as working at a height:

  • Working above floor or ground level
  • Potentially could fall from an edge or opening
  • Could fall from ground level into an opening or hole in the ground

What is NOT Working at Height?

You are not working at height if you slip or fall on ground level. Only falls from one level to a lower level can be considered working at height.

Using a permanent staircase to work from one floor to another is also not included as working at a height.

The Dangers of Working at Height

Now that we have established what working at height entails, we need to fully understand the dangers and risks associated with this.

Did you know that working from a height is one of the construction industry’s biggest causes of injuries and fatalities?

Individuals risk falling or dropping objects from heights even when properly secured and trained. These pose risks to the construction worker and those below the height, who falling objects or persons may injure.

Holes or openings in flooring and surfaces, working on scaffolding or ladders, and on roofs and more can all pose a risk with different consequences.

So, how can you take the best steps as a team leader, manager or business owner to ensure the most appropriate working-at-height practices are used on your site?

The Working at Height Regulations 2005

To promote safer working conditions in the construction industry, the 2005 Working at Height Regulations apply to any height at which there is a risk of falling and sustaining a personal injury. The regulations ensure that the duty of responsibility lands on the employer or anyone managing or controlling the working at height tasks or activities. This could include business owners or site managers.

The Working at Height Regulations 2005 ensure the following criteria are met and followed:

  • Any and all work at height is properly planned and organised before work is begun.
  • Any person involved in working at height is competent and trained.
  • Any and all risks are assessed and planned for.
  • Appropriate work equipment is selected ahead of time.
  • Risks of working on or around fragile surfaces are managed appropriately.
  • Any and all equipment o be used is thoroughly inspected before use.

Ensuring your Team is Competent

As the site manager, team leader or business owner, you have your own responsibility as detailed under the Working at Height Regulations 2005. So, how can you ensure your team of construction workers are competent and also follow best standard practices?

With up-to-date and appropriate working at-height training, you can ensure each team member has the knowledge and skillset to work and react appropriately in these challenging situations. Training courses are available for both employers and employees to ensure any who may work at height or supervise who do have the necessary education to carry out this work safely and efficiently.

Quality working at height training should cover a basis of risk assessments, control methods and the necessary equipment. This is important to ensure that both construction workers and the person responsible are competent.

We recommend the Working at a Height (WAH) training course from NATAS for award-winning training and courses.