Working at height in construction involves hazards and risks. Understanding the safety risks associated with each type of construction work is required for safety and precautions. Risk assessment; safety training, frequent supervision are some of the crucial steps to take to reduce the likelihood of risk when operating at heights. Details on how to work at height in construction projects, construction hazards and their control are discussed below.

1. What is working at height?

Work at height refers to any activity performed in a location where a person could be hurt if they dropped from that location, whether it be above, below, or both. It can also be dangerous to work at heights to enter and exit a building. 

2. Common safety risks of working at height

2.1. Ladders

It seems quite simple to use a ladder: check to verify if it’s stable, then climb. Of fact, any piece of machinery with numerous joints or load-bearing platforms, such as a ladder, can develop into a significant safety danger over time, especially with wear and tear.

Another issue with such “straightforward” equipment is the possibility of becoming overly accustomed to it. You run the risk of falling to the ground if you lean too far or put too much faith in your footing.

The most common reason for fatal falls among construction workers is improper ladder use. Consider these construction safety suggestions when revising your ladder safety routine: Ladder safety requires checks, focus, and thorough understanding of the repercussions of misuse.

working at height in construction
The most common reason for fatal falls among construction workers is improper ladder use
  • Before using any ladder, give it a thorough inspection, and be sure to remove it from the
    work area right once if you think it’s unsafe.
  • Always face the ladder when climbing or descending.
  • Always maintain three points of contact with the ladder: two feet and a hand, or two hands and a foot.
  • Before mounting the ladder, make sure the ground is stable and level.
  • Make sure the ladder’s top extends at least three feet above the point of support, and for added stability, tie the top and bottom to secure points.
  • Check that the surface is level and stable before setting up the ladder.
  • Be sure the top of the ladder extends at least three feet above the point of support, and tie the top and bottom to secure points for extra stability.
  • Check the locks on your extension ladder before using it.
  • If the ladder is being used in a busy area, place barriers around it.
  • Remember to account for any tools or materials you may be holding while standing on the ladder when calculating the weight that a ladder can support safely.
  • Energised electrical equipment adds another layer of danger. If you’re going to be using charged equipment, make sure your ladder has non-conductive side railings.

2.2. Harnesses

On the condition that it is in flawless functioning order, a personal fall arrest system can be an excellent form of insurance against a disastrous accident on a building site. Like any significant tool, harnesses should be carefully inspected on a regular basis and utilised as intended. After all, your life practically depends on it.

Take into account the following advice when examining your harness:

  • Verify that the harness is in good condition and damage-free.
  • If you’re wearing a lanyard or lifeline, make sure it’s short enough to keep you from hitting the ground if you fall.
  • Personal fall arrest devices’ safety nets and lanyards can save you from falling too far, but guardrails are the only thing that can stop a fall completely.
  • Both employers and employees should contribute to providing a safe workplace, thus management should think about putting in toe boards, screens or guardrails, canopies, or barriers when necessary.

2.3. Scaffolding

Scaffolding is an integral part of any construction site, and it is also one of the most dangerous for employees. Because of the high platform’s design, workers are also at risk of electrocution and falling objects in addition to falls.

working at heights jobs
Workers may face risks when working on scaffolds

Working securely on a scaffold requires careful tool placement and attention to weight restrictions. Consider the following additional construction safety advice:

  • Have the scaffold built by trained personnel, and arrange for frequent inspections by a certified inspector (ideally, a professional engineer).
  • On either side of the platform, add at least two guardrails (three if you count the toe board).
  • Wear personal protective equipment (PPE for construction) when using scaffolds, including the recommended head, foot, and harness protection. A harnessed worker who falls off a platform should be brought back to a safe, stable surface as quickly as feasible and unhooked. In as little as ten minutes, dangling from a harness can cut off circulation and become fatal.
  • Keep any tools and supplies that aren’t being utilised off the scaffold because there isn’t much room to begin with.
  • Block off the area on the ground under the scaffold to keep people safe from material and anything that may fall from the platform.
  • It’s crucial to keep in mind that, in addition to the possibility of falling, you also run the risk of having other objects crash into you. This is why it’s crucial to wear appropriate head and foot protection and keep surfaces clear of clutter.

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3. How to minimise the risks of working at height

Your construction site safety approach should place a strong emphasis on routine inspection, extensive training, and detailed safety and action plans. It can be challenging to oversee and manage every element of your everyday operations, and maintenance may get overlooked. To assist you more accurately identify your risks, put together a training program, and ultimately safeguard the individuals who are important to your company, think about hiring some risk management specialists.

Managing construction site safety is simply one part of the puzzle. Your business may be more enticing to thieves than you might think with all of your specialised, well-maintained equipment. Learn about the growing issue of theft on construction sites and what you can do to safeguard your tools and equipment while attempting to keep your workers safe.

construction work at height
How to minimise the risks of working at height

Conduct training sessions of working at height. Make sure the employees are qualified, experienced, and equipped to handle any work at height. It’s crucial to have the proper individuals working on the right tasks since different work assignments require various knowledge and skills.

Avoid working at heights whenever possible. The design team ought to be able to recognize chances that will reduce the amount of work done at any height. Is it possible to lower the construction to the ground and begin work there if any height-related work must be done? Could the work be done by machinery instead? Is there any method to go about this task?

Ensure that employees are using the appropriate tools for the job at hand. Staff should have a secure means to transport their tools to and from work because backpacks can accommodate a variety of tools that could otherwise fall from pockets. Another solution to prevent goods from being dropped is lanyards.

Understand the environment you operate in. If you’re working on an old, decaying roof or surface, your methods should account for weak surfaces and potential collapse. Make sure your staff members are confident and at ease, and that there are no unpleasant shocks; going too far could have fatal results.