Unsafe Highs: working at height

Working at height: The need to know facts

With falls from height on small building sites remaining one of the most common causes of workplace fatalities, work that seems to present a lower level of risk needs greater attention with regard to proper health and safety measures.

working at height

That’s the view of Joanna Mulgrew, director at HBXL, who believes more needs to be done to raise awareness of safety regarding routine or low level work at height.

Accounting for nearly three in ten (29%) fatal injuries to workers in 2013 / 14 (RIDDOR), has made the need to comply with the latest regulations of paramount importance regarding height.

And with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) maintaining an intensive inspection initiative, particularly with regard to working at height, Joanna is calling on all builders to keep a constant vigilance on their health and safety obligations.

Joanna said: “It’s human nature to take extra precautions when scaling high scaffolding or climbing tall ladders, so is understandable that people let their guard down when undertaking seemingly lower level or less risky jobs at height.

“The fact is however height doesn’t necessarily mean height in the sense of being high up so just as much caution needs to exercised for low jobs as well as high ones.”

Joanna is also keen to point out that working at height doesn’t necessarily mean going up and that work in basements now accounts for a higher proportion of site safety failures.

Her views are supported by the fact that 50% of basement sites failed inspection in March 2015.

She added: “You’d think that basement work wouldn’t necessarily pose a problem, but the reality is almost paradox to what you’d expect.

“With lots of central London properties undergoing large scale basement conversions, it’s not surprising work of this nature is hitting the radar of the HSE.

“There have been some well documented projects in central London where the work has gone down at least two stories underground. That’s a long way, so the right precautions need to be taken, particularly with regard to working at height.

“What we advocate is for workmen to know what all the risks are before they go on site and that they fully understand their responsibilities and the precautions needed to stay safe.

“Software tools like Health & Safety Xpert equips the builder with all the necessary documentation outlining the various health and safety issues on any job whether it’s high up or underground.

“Our view is that prevention is better than cure and by using software tools like Health & Safety Xpert, builders know they have the very latest paperwork to hand. This can then be printed off and placed in a file for all members of the team to read before they start on site.

“Using this type of software also, in my view, differentiates the good builders from the rest and highlights the responsibilities of the client and contractor.”