Considerations for Working at Height
Often when considering lift equipment, this implies a job that will need to be done at height, which means you will need to evaluate risks and take the appropriate steps to ensure that you and other people on the job site are safe.
Working at height comes with its own set of risks, namely falls, which can be fatal depending on how high workers are and other factors at the job site. Regardless, it should be clear that the stakes of this type of work are high. When installing fall protection, some risk factors you must be aware of improperly secured railings, failing to tie off properly, a harness that does not fit the worker properly, or straps that are worn out on a harness. Luckily, with the right preparation and an attentive eye, most of these issues are easily resolved.
Before using a harness, it should be inspected. Check for signs of wear and tear, such as straps that are frayed. The buckles should also be checked and secured. Frays and knots or other elements that compromise the integrity of the harness must be addressed, as they can weaken the harness and make it ineffective.
Don’t Underestimate Height
As with lifting, sometimes there is an unfortunate tendency to underestimate jobs at height. Consider something like standing on a chair or working from a ladder. While a worker may feel comfortable at these heights, serious injuries can be sustained, even from what may seem to be a relatively low height. We recommend taking safety training courses whenever you are considering working at height so that you are fully aware of risk factors since good judgment isn’t always enough to address the situation. In fact, whenever you are working at a height of over 3 meters, it is important to take safety precautions. If you are working with a ladder, ensure that it is the appropriate height for the job you are doing and that it is secure before you climb it.
Fall Arrest versus Fall Protection
Properly installing fall protection is an essential step for the safety of undertaking any job that will be performed at height. Examples of fall protection include equipment like wire rope rails and travel restraint harnesses. Fall protection is a more comprehensive, albeit at times more limiting means of securing workers at height.
In contrast, fall arrest equipment is meant to prevent injury in the case that a worker should fall, with equipment like harnesses, lanyards, and anchor points. Fall arrest equipment is designed to protect a worker who is already falling, while fall protection is meant to prevent the fall from occurring in the first place. Fall arrest can be potentially beneficial in enabling a worker to access more areas on the work site and to work in an unimpeded manner.
However, if practical, fall restraint is often preferable. Some methods, like using guardrails, are “passive” ways to create a safe environment. It is “passive” because the worker does not have to take any additional measures. Additionally, guardrails don’t require any extra training or thought on the part of the workers, since it is just part of the work environment. Of course, these sorts of delimitations must be respected by the workers in order to be fully effective, but typically they can be seamlessly incorporated on the work site.
Working at height obviously comes with a set of risks, but there are many steps that workers can take to make sure they are safe while on the job. At Alberta Lift, we have safety gear for working at height as well as trainings that we are happy to tailor to your individual needs.
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