WORKING AT HEIGHT RESOURCE BOOKLET. Working at Height 1

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1 WORKING AT HEIGHT RESOURCE BOOKLET Working at Height 1

2 Falls constantly top the HSENI Construction Group Statistics as the biggest cause of major injuries. The Construction Employers Federation Health & Safety Committee, in conjunction with the Health & Safety Executive Northern Ireland, has produced this resource booklet to aid members by reinforcing basic industry practice to make construction sites safer. The CEF Health & Safety Committee has been set up to encourage collaboration amongst CEF members leading to regular sharing of best practice in the interests of improving overall health and safety standards in our industry. WORKING AT HEIGHT RESOURCE BOOKLET To perform any work at height it is important that the people involved in planning or carrying out the activity have the competence to carry it out safely, whether it is competence gained from experience or training, or both. This guide is not an exhaustive list of all hazards, nor is it a definitive training guide. Each work activity must be specifically risk assessed and a safe method of working devised and explained to all the people involved in the activity. 2 Working at Height

3 USING A SCAFFOLD USING A LADDER 1 A scaffold should be planned, designed, erected, adjusted and inspected by competent people only. 2 Scaffolding should be checked as it is erected (damaged boards, tube and clips, etc.), before each use, after any adverse event (damage, weather or adjustment) and weekly by a competent scaffolder. Records should be kept in the health and safety file for inspection. 3 The scaffold must be erected on firm level ground with loads distributed via the base plates and sole boards. 4 Scaffolding should be braced and tied to a permanent structure. 5 Work areas and loading areas should be fully boarded with guard-rails, mid-rails and toeboards. Loading areas should have gate access unless the loads are being lifted over a permanent guard-rail. 1 Before using a ladder consider if it is the most suitable equipment for the job. Is the ladder long enough to reach without needing to stand on the top three rungs and is it free of damage and excessive wear? 2 A ladder is for short duration work only. Can you maintain three points of contact during the activity? 3 Can you maintain a handhold other than for a brief period? (e.g. starting a nail or screw). 4 Can the ladder be erected safely? (at a one in four angle, in a location safe from: overhead cables, vehicle and pedestrian traffic, opening doors and windows). 5 Can the ladder be kept secure? (tied near the top at both stiles, wedged, using a stability device or as a last resort, footed). Figure 1 Ladder showing the correct one in four angle (means of securing omitted for clarity). Figure 2 User maintaining three points of contact (means of securing omitted for clarity). 2 Working at Height Working at Height 3

4 USING A MEWP WORKING PLATFORMS NON-INTEGRATED ON FORKLIFT TRUCKS 1 Use of a MEWP (Mobile Elevating Work Platform) must be properly planned, and managed by experienced, trained and competent people. 2 The MEWP must have a current inspection/service record and daily checks should be carried out. 3 The main hazards are Entrapment: Between a structure and the platform, or between a structure and the platform controls making it difficult to stop the machine. Stay inside the platform and be alert to your surroundings. Overturning: Wind, uneven or not level ground, near an excavation. Assess ground and weather conditions before commencing the task and also during, to allow for changes. Ensure outriggers are fully extended and chocked. Falling: Stay inside the basket, wear a harness with a short work restraint lanyard fixed to an anchorage point within the basket. Collision: The risk assessment should identify overhead cables, beams and structures. Pedestrian access and vehicles to be avoided or controlled. 4 Have an emergency rescue plan in place to get everyone back on the ground safely including someone suspended from a harness. 5 After use, ensure the MEWP is switched off, the keys removed, tools secured and the MEWP made as inaccessible to vandalism as possible. 1 Forklift trucks are primarily intended for lifting materials and not people. However, they can be used with working platforms to allow people to work at height in exceptional circumstances. 2 Ensure the job is risk assessed and a safe work method including emergency procedures are fully understood by everyone involved. The platform (including work restraint anchor points) and forklift must have a current six-monthly inspection. A pre-use check must be carried out each time it is used. 3 Only set up on firm level ground. Ensure that any tilting mechanism, side shift or any variable geometry attachments are not capable of movement when the working platform is elevated. 4 The platform must be locked to the forklift. The forklift brakes must be applied. 5 Restrict access to the work area using cones, lights, barriers or signs as appropriate. 6 The truck operator must be at the controls of the truck at all times when the platform is elevated. There must be adequate communication between the truck operator and people on the work platform through hand-signals, phone, walkie-talkies, etc. 7 Do not stand on the guard-rails, and stay inside the platform when it is elevated. If you need to lean out of the platform to do work, ensure you wear a full body harness with lanyard attached to a work restraint anchor point. 4 Working at Height Working at Height 5

5 USING A HARNESS/LANYARD INTERNAL FALL PROTECTION 1 Use of a harness/lanyard is usually an additional safety feature to a scaffolder s security, MEWP operative or roof worker. 2 The use of a harness as a sole safety measure should be the last option considered. The use of harnesses must only be considered for use by trained operatives and planned by someone competent to take into account: a) the circumstances b) strength and location of available anchor points c) type/length of lanyard d) suspension height and obstacles e) means of rescue 3 There are two types of harness/ lanyard system Fall Arrest: This stops a person after they have fallen; it normally consists of a full body harness and a lanyard with some form of inline shock absorption capability. Work Restraint: This stops you falling in the first place, by preventing you from getting in to a position where you can fall; it normally consists of a full body harness and lanyard with no shock absorber. 4 You must have a rescue plan in place which will detail the means of access to the user and their safe retrieval (within 15 minutes), including preparations for dealing with potential post fall suspension trauma. 5 You must be trained and competent to inspect and use the harness/ lanyard system and identify defects. 1 Internal fall protection should be considered as part of your risk assessment for work such as: Stripping Dismantling or refurbishing roofs Installing joists Roof trusses Battening or roof tiling Installing concrete floor slabs or stairs Working near or over fragile surfaces or voids 2 The safest fall protection systems are those that prevent the fall. Proprietary decking systems, birdcage scaffold, extendable aluminium safety trellis, etc. 3 The next level of fall protection will still let you fall, but will mitigate the distance and consequences of a fall. Air-bags/bean-bags as soft landing can be used, but be careful to install according to the manufacturer s instructions. (The safe fall distance may require the bags to be installed in layers, some bags need tied together, and the correct size of air-bag needs to be used so as not to push walls). 4 Safety nets are useful so long as there is adequate clearance below and proper anchorage points used. Ensure there is a rescue plan in place. 5 Some fragile roof materials may give a false sense of security. They may give the impression that they can bear a person s weight, but they might not carry a concentrated load such as the heel of someone walking, or a person stumbling and falling. Don t walk along the line of roof bolts above a purlin assuming it s safe, it could be damaged or rotten and if you slip or fall you could easily fall through. 6 Working at Height Working at Height 7

6 EXCAVATIONS WORKING AT HEIGHT 1 Never excavate or enter an excavation until the job has been suitably risk assessed and a Safe Method of Work has been prepared and explained to all operatives. A competent person must check the ground conditions, underground structures/water courses and locate existing services. 2 Collapse of Excavations: The equipment and precautions needed to prevent collapse must be available on site before work starts. Consider vibration from other construction activities and traffic, changes in the soil properties as work progresses, and how it may be affected by rain/water ingress. 3 Falling or dislodging material: Don t store excavated soils, material for use or vehicles along the sides of the trench. Battering Shoring The sides of the trench box or shoring sheets should project above the sides of the excavation to prevent material falling in. Failing this, toe-boards should be positioned around the excavation. Be careful not to undermine other structures (buildings, scaffolding or services). 4 Falling into Excavations: Edges of excavations should be surrounded by guard-rails and toe-boards. The excavation should be accessed by a secured ladder. If plant such as dumpers need to approach the sides of the trench to deposit material then stop-blocks should be used. 5 Inspection: A competent person must inspect the excavation at the start of each shift and after any event that might have affected it s strength or stability (heavy rain, partial collapse, falling rock/earth). Benching Combination THE HEIGHT OF CARELESSNESS COMMON ATTITUDES It ll never happen to me. I ve always done it this way. It ll only take five minutes. THINK ABOUT WORKS AT HEIGHT Plan the work in a safe manner in consultation with your supervisor. Do you require additional training? Carry out the work from a safe platform which has been built and inspected by a competent person. CONSEQUENCES Falls from height can cause serious injury or death. Long term injuries. Loss of wages. I ve done it like this before and nothing happened. Do you think anyone else has said this, before they had an accident at work? Never carry out adjustments on any work at height equipment unless trained and authorised. Loss of morale within the company. Possible legal prosecution of you and your company including fines and/ or imprisonment. 8 Working at Height Working at Height 9

7 GET IN TOUCH CONTACT US Construction Employers Federation 143 Malone Road, Belfast, BT9 6SX T F E Health & Safety Executive, Northern Ireland 83 Ladas Drive, Belfast, BT6 9FR T E 10 Working at Height Working at Height 11

8 12 Working at Height

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