A survey by the Building Safety Group, based on 10,000 site inspections conducted during the first six months of 2018, found that there has been a 13 per cent rise in the number of working from height safety breaches on construction sites.
This reflects the Health and Safety Executive’s latest statistics, which reveal that of 150 falls from height accidents 40 per cent were due to falls from ladders. With that in mind, it is good to reiterate the steps employers and health and safety professionals can take to safeguard staff through the means of training and development.
The sad reality is that fatalities and injuries have occurred, and continue to occur, as a result of falls from height. Unfortunately, this can be frequently attributed to the incorrect use of equipment, inadequate supervision,
and lack of sufficient tools or training.
Nowadays, companies can receive hefty fines for failing to carry out the necessary site assessments and take the relevant precautions to safeguard staff. Ensuring the workforce undergoes sufficient training on current regulations, as well as identifying risks, can significantly offset the danger posed by working at height.
Over the past five years, almost 29,000 injuries have been reported due to a fall from height, with nearly 200 people killed within the workplace. Training is widely available throughout the construction industry to increase skills and output; however, this can often be regarded as unnecessary.
It is also true that within the industry some people who work at height think an accident will never happen to them and don’t believe there is a need for training, overlooking the potential risks that can impact not only a business but individual workers.
Ensuring trade professionals receive the necessary information on how to safely work at height is just one of the ways risks can be reduced – it is also vital to determine that employees are competent and using the correct equipment. Often, user error and insufficient tools and equipment play a key role in on-site accidents, which is why most training courses cover this topic.
For those reasons, it is crucial for health and safety professionals to ensure thorough employee training is carried out when working in the construction industry. In any workforce where staff are regularly using ladders, it is highly recommended that they undertake the Ladder Association’s accredited ladder training scheme.
The course comprises both practical and theoretical assessments, and covers all key bases, including how to correctly erect, use, handle and store ladders, as well as highlighting potential hazards. For those taking the inspector course, delegates can learn how to assess and determine when it is appropriate to inspect a ladder, and how to recommend the correct action if faults are found.
Certain manufacturers host the ladder training courses, which are available to any industry professional. Also available is the PASMA accredited Towers for Users Course, designed for those who are responsible for specifying, assembling, dismantling, using, altering, moving and inspecting access towers. The course provides both theoretical and practical training on tower legislation; PASMA codes of practice; hazards associated with using mobile access towers; and what should be avoided.
It is crucial that health and safety professionals ensure that those working with towers receive their PASMA codes of practice training. Completion of the course demonstrates capability, and nowadays a vast number of sites will require their workers to be PASMA accredited before carrying out any work where use of a tower is required.
However, it is essential when choosing a tower that it conforms to EN1004:2004 Mobile access and working towers made of prefabricated elements: materials, dimensions, design loads, safety and performance requirements in order to comply.
The facts can’t be ignored. Falls from height still remain one of the most common causes of injury in the workplace and continue to occur in the thousands. In order to ensure these numbers continue to decrease, employees and health and safety professionals must work collaboratively to ensure all of the necessary precautions are taken.
More information at: www.wernerco.com
EN 1004- 2004 Mobile access and working towers available here
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