Monday, 4 May 2015

A Safe Approach to Working at Heights

Working at heights is one of the most hazardous activities undertaken in the construction industries. Non-compliance with safe working practices can easily result in serious injury or death. All working at heights shall be based on assessment of risk, taking into account the height, work environment and hazards and shall require the issuing of a working at heights Permit to Work by the authorized person.

It is not advisable to work without an approved method of fall protection wherever there is a risk of falling. Suitable methods of fall protection in order of preference are: Erection of physical barriers, Use of an approved fall protection device and Measures to arrest the fall once a fall has occurred. Suitable methods of fall protection in order of preference are:
  • Erecting a physical barrier.
  • Use of a fall prevention system/harness to prevent the person from falling.
  • Providing personnel with a fall arrest system/harness to stop a person who has fallen.
  • Measures to catch a person after falling.
The preferred method is to stop a person from falling. Fall arrest systems and measures to catch people may save the person's life, however the fall can easily result in serious injury.
Fall Prevention Systems are designed to stop a person from falling. They are travel restriction devices that prevent a person from getting into a situation where they could fall.

The Fall Arrest System, unlike the fall prevention system is designed to stop a person who is falling, critical issues in relation to fall arrest systems are:
  • It is fitted with an energy absorber to reduce the impact.
  • The lanyard must be short as possible with the slack not exceeding two meters to minimize the pendulum effect.
  • Persons should not work alone when using a fall arrest system.
  • Compatible components should always be used.
Falling objects present a significant risk to personnel working below. The methods for protection from falling objects include:
Containment sheeting etc.
Lanyards secured to tools.
Personal protection equipment, i.e hard hats, steel cap boots etc.
Toe boards.
Barricades and exclusion zones.
Signs and other warning devices.
Catch platforms.

Care of Safety Harnesses

Use and maintenance of safety harnesses should include the following:
  1. Checked for damage prior to use
  2. Inspect every six months and maintain a written record
  3. Only compatible hooks, latches etc should be used
  4. Harness should be stored in a cool, dry area away from direct sunlight, heat, moisture and corrosives
  5. Cleaning should be undertaken with warm water and mild soap or detergent

Job Safety Analysis (JSA)

A JSA should be conducted prior to undertaking “working at height” tasks where there is potential for personnel to be injured. As a minimum, the JSA should:
  • Identify potential hazards of the activity
  • Assess the associated risks
  • Determine controls measures to eliminate or reduce the risk to the absolute minimum

Fall Protection Equipment:

  • Self-Retracting Lanyard
  • Shock Absorbent Lanyard
  • Full Body Harness
  • Webbing Lanyard
  • Fall Arrester
  • Adjustable Lanyard

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