Important tips for working safely at heights
Whether you run a factory or a warehouse, you shouldn’t look up to heights; respect them, but always try to bring them down to your size. Make sense? Well, to put it another less cryptic way, heights are only a problem if you let them be through bad planning and practice. With the right tools, training and techniques in place, you can scale new heights in workplace safety. So here are a few secrets for success.
Analyse everything from the ground up
Before anyone climbs on anything, ask yourself an important question – can the job be just as effectively performed from the ground? If it has to be done from an elevated position, choose your equipment carefully. Use an elevated work platform or portable scaffold system with secure handrails. It is also important to ensure use of approved travel restraint or fall arrest system. Anyone using such systems must be provided with the appropriate training and supervision.
They might work fine in corporate climbing analogies, but ladders should be used as a last resort. For a start they encourage misuse – climbing with one hand while holding tools in the other. If possible always use a step platform ladder as these provide a larger more stable work surface than a conventional ladder. If you only take one piece of advice from this article, make it this: Don’t use ladders unless you absolutely have to.
Insist on safety gear
Your PPH requirements will obviously vary depending on the nature of your warehouse or factory. Whatever they are, make sure all your workers stick to them by making safety gear non-negotiable.
Teach the right attitude for altitude
Working safely at heights isn’t just about equipment; it’s about expertise. In other words it takes training. Ensure that all your workers undertake thorough ‘Working at Heights’ training so they can work safely with commonsense and skill.
Check and check again
It pays to regularly assess your entire site for potential fall hazards. Are temporary and permanent structures wilting under the load? Are any floors slippery or unstable? Are any above-ground work areas overcrowded or cluttered? Your safety gear and equipment can only perform properly if all the foundations are there to do so.
Prepare for all possible scenarios
That means preparing for the worst, the best, and everything in between. Analyse every height-related situation on your site. What could go wrong? How can you prevent it going wrong? What are the possible injuries if it does? Each emergency procedure you create has to be geared to unfold quickly and efficiently. And who will be first on the scene if an accident happens? Your workers. So make sure they’re fully trained in rescue and first aid techniques and have the necessary equipment to cope until emergency services arrive.
Plan for the likely emergency response
Your ability to deal with an emergency will largely depend on the quality of emergency services in your area. Response times for remote or isolated sites will be longer than urban sites and will determine the level of immediate assistance you should have onsite.