Last edited 11 Jan 2021

Working at height training


[edit] Introduction

Health and safety in the workplace is an area that needs constant reassessment and re-evaluation as industrial practices evolve. Despite rigorous efforts to address safety issues, more than 1 million people are injured in the workplace each year, many of them as a result of working at height. When it comes to fatal injuries, working at height is consistently the greatest single factor, despite a drop from 42 to 37 fatalities from 2014/15 to 2015/16.

This is how the fatal accidents in the workplace were distributed in 2015/16:

  • Falls from height: 37
  • Struck by moving vehicle: 27
  • Struck by moving object: 15
  • Trapped by overturning: 13
  • Contact with machinery: 9
  • Drowning or asphyxiation: 8

[edit] Industries needing working at height training

This is a very tough one to summarise as almost any industry may one day need one or more of their employees to work at height. Having said that, the most at risk industries tend to include: construction and roofing, telecommunications, roadwork operations, warehousing, window-cleaning and decorating and even fishing and the offshore wind industry.

There are, of course, other sectors that involve working at height and the general rule of thumb is that if as a company you can envisage any of your employees working at height on any given day then you should ensure that your employees and managers are adequately trained.

[edit] Risk mitigation in the workplace

While there are all sorts of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) items on the market the best way to prevent injury in the workplace from working at height is to minimise the risk. The first and most effective way to do this is to ensure all relevant staff are trained. This will allow them to evaluate environmental conditions, place working equipment in the right place, create thorough risk assessments and recognise how long it is safe to work at height and wherever possible make decisions which render working at height unnecessary.

The Health and Safety Work Act 1974, gives employers a duty of care to ensure all employees and visitors to their premises are safe.

[edit] Promoting safe behaviour

Messing around from time to time with colleagues can be a good team-building exercise, but this is never appropriate when working at height. Making sure that everyone understands the gravity of the situation is of paramount importance and ensuring that everyone is regularly kept up to date with training will reinforce this culture of safety.

[edit] Trained employees can focus on their jobs

This may seem like an obvious point, but just imagine that an inadequately trained employee is sent to work at height. They will be unsure of what they are doing and the best practice and as such will inevitably take longer to get the job done. Training may seem like a costly expense, but it can also increase efficiency.

[edit] Saving money in the long term

Splashing out on training may not seem an obvious cost-cutting exercise, but bear in mind that health and safety training can cut down on down-time, eliminate potentially damaging HSE fines and legal battles that can result from injuries obtained in the workplace. There should be a strong moral reason for ensuring training is given, but it is also worth mentioning the long term financial sense.

[edit] Increasing confidence and morale

There are few traits worse than a lack of confidence among employees. When employees are well trained and feel safe and comfortable in the workplace their confidence levels will increase, leading to better performance and self-esteem, which reduces the risk of stress-related absences.

[edit] Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki

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