When heading to your job, it’s pretty unlikely that you’re worrying that much about the risk of injuring yourself. However, accidents at work can and do happen at any time in any occupation and, if you’re working in the construction sector those risks are even higher.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re simply carrying out DIY fixes on your home or are part of a large-scale construction team, building and renovating jobs pose a host of potential dangers to those who aren’t completely prepared.
One of the biggest risks that many in the construction industry have to deal with is the issue of working at height. According to the Health & Safety Executive, falls from height remain the most significant cause of death in the workplace, with a large percentage of those deaths coming from the construction industry.
With this in mind, it is vital that you and your team are completely clued up on how to work both safely and efficiently at height. As tool hire suppliers who have worked with countless contractors over the years, we believe that it is essential to champion safety in the industry. Because of this, we’ve decided to give you the lowdown on how to work at height with confidence.
Planning is everything
One of the most important ways to ensure that you and everyone else is working safely at height is to spend a good amount of time planning your job in advance. The following points after this one should all be considered in the planning phase to ensure a safe and successful job.
For starters, it’s important to remember that if it is reasonably practicable to do the work without being at height, always look to minimise your time in a dangerous position. You should also look to minimise the distance and consequences of a fall by carrying out a comprehensive risk assessment.
Finally, it is essential to ensure that before anyone even considers working at height, they are deemed as ‘competent’ in the eyes of the Health and Safety Regulations 2005. In order to be deemed competent, a worker needs to have both the knowledge and skills to perform any tasks at height effectively. A competent individual will also be needed to carry out a comprehensive risk assessment.
Luckily, there are a range of training courses specifically designed for teaching individuals to work at height so it can be useful for you and your team to be fully trained, something that we will go into further detail later.
Wearing the right gear
While it is especially useful to plan ahead when it comes to working at height, if you and your team are not kitted out with the right gear, it won’t matter how much training you’ve had as you’re still putting yourself at risk. Personal Protective Equipment, also known as PPE, is an industry standard for anyone working in the construction industry and is especially important for working at height.
While specific PPE will need to be determined during the risk assessment period of your project, there are a variety of things you will most definitely need to minimise the chance an accident. For starters, you’re going to need a sturdy pair of footwear with excess grip and a strong sole to keep you steady while at height.
A helmet is also a necessity to both protect you from falling objects and to generally protect your head in the case of a fall. Gloves are also essential as they can add another level of grip when ascending. With this in mind, you should have a pair that are both grip and flexible.
In addition to the above general PPE, it may be that you will require more specialised gear such as harnesses and karabiners. Both are vital in order to create what is known as a ‘fall arrest system’ which defines the PPE necessary to stop a worker from hitting the ground in the case of a fall.
Working with the right tools
Working at height is one thing, actually getting up there is another issue all together. If you’re going to be working at height, you will most likely need some sort of access equipment in order to get to where you need to be. Access equipment can cover a wide variety of things, from simple step ladders all the way up to scaffold towers and moving platforms, however, it’s important to know which is right for your specific job.
For working at lower levels and for completing minor tasks, a step ladder may be the most appropriate option for you. Thanks to the fact they’re durable, compact and easy to maneuver, they can be great for tasks like painting and window cleaning.
Using a ladder safely comes down to how and where it’s placed. A general rule of thumb for placing a ladder is, for every four feet the ladder goes up, it needs to be a foot away from the wall.
For more significant access work, scaffolding equipment can be extremely useful. creating a stable platform to work on, provided it’s assembled correctly, they are great for longer term projects. Comprehensive assembly is essential for safe usage as stability relies on the various locks and joints being put into place properly.
Powered access equipment
Arguably the most reliable and safest option, powered access equipment allows for specialised work at lower levels, granting the user unparalleled control over how and where work is carried out.
However, while they are extremely safe there are guidelines to remember. For example, the operator needs to be well-versed in using powered access equipment and you will need to adhere to maximum weight limits to minimise issues.
Train your team on best practice
Preparation and the right equipment hire are hugely important to working at height. Yet, even if you’re completely prepared for the job at hand and decked out with all of the PPE and equipment necessary, if you’re not following best practice rules, you may as well not have anything. With this in mind, here are just a few of the things you need to keep in mind when working at height.
For starters, it’s essential that you regularly carry out risk assessments to ensure that everything is still working as it should. Over time, your equipment may shift or the personnel on your team may change, because of this, you need to ensure all bases are covered regularly.
Secondly, remember to never leave your tools on any access equipment as this creates both a trip hazard and the risk of equipment falling on an unsuspecting team members head.
As we’ve mentioned, training your team is essential and the above points, along with a host of other safety procedures, will be taught on certified courses. With this in mind it’s essential to ensure your team is trained.
For a quality plant & tools rental service you can trust, get in touch with Basically Tool Hire today
With the right planning, education and equipment, working at height doesn’t have to be a precarious situation. With Basically Tool Hire, we understand how important it is to stay safe when on the job, which is why, with our range of plant and tool hire options, you can rest assured you’ll be safe.
Offering a variety of plant and tool rental services to customers throughout Edinburgh and the Lothians, our team has cemented ourselves as the region’s premier supplier for quality equipment. Whether you’re looking for quality ladders, access equipment rentals for working at height or are in need of reliable plant machinery for your project, Basically Tool Hire is here to help.
If you would like to learn more about how Basically Tool Hire can help with your next project, get in touch with our team on 0131 663 9563 or visit our website for more information.