Working at Heights? Here’s How Employees Can Stay Safe

Worker safety is crucial for construction employees, especially if they are working at high altitudes. According to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, falls remain the leading cause of work-related fatalities in the construction industry. This type of accident accounts for approximately 36.4 percent of the total number of deaths in this sector.

Far too many individuals end up passing away or injuring themselves due to their work on rooftops, ladders and other locations above the ground. Given this, team leaders, construction site managers and business owners need to be aware of the potential hazards employees face when working at heights. They should implement measures that will keep their personnel safe on the job to avoid injuries and fatalities.

Here are important safety tips that you can implement in your business to reduce the harm from height-related workplace issues:

  1. Conduct Safety Training for Your Employees

All workers performing work at high altitudes should go through and complete a Working at Heights Certification Training Program (or something similar) before they begin their first day on the job or construction site.

Employees must be aware of the risks involved with the task. Workers, for instance, should learn how to check the equipment they’re going to use to work at heights. If the manlift that the company rented doesn’t feel stable, for instance, they should report this finding to their team leader or bring up their concerns to the appropriate manlift rental provider.

  1. Promote the Use of Proper Equipment

Simply putting on regular Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is not enough. Construction personnel working at heights need to use a Personal Fall Arrest System to get the job done effectively and efficiently. The employer is responsible for providing the appropriate gear for these workers.

Take note, though, that not all PFAS are the same. The cost of these systems, for example, can have a major difference between them. The brand name, however, is not always the reason for the price hike. Some PFAS feature better materials that are more durable, support more weight and safeguard against other hazards, such as electricity or fire.

The method of fall arrest can also differ from one system to another. Depending on the working conditions in the job site, your employees may require PFAS with a fireproof feature, extra D-rings or an arc-safe design to stay safe while working at high altitudes. Fully understand the hazards present in the worksite and do your research before purchasing PFAS in bulk.

Also, never cut corners or skimp on fall protection gear. Say no to PFAS providers offering affordable but low-quality equipment. Always choose the best PFAS for your construction team regardless of the cost.

  1. Have Employees Check for Slippery or Fragile Surfaces

Check the surfaces that your employees will be working on. Make sure that the surfaces are stable and won’t collapse under the weight of a standing individual.

Even if the worker is using PFAS or similar fall protection equipment, they can still sustain injuries if the platform they’re working on breaks under their weight. If the working platform looks or feels unstable, workers should report this problem to the site manager and recommend replacements or repairs before work can continue.

You should also take into account slippery surfaces on elevated platforms. Similar to cases with unstable surfaces, a worker who slips and falls on an elevated platform can sustain an injury even while wearing the appropriate fall protection gear.

Employees, therefore, should put on the proper footwear for the job. What’s more, site managers should take measures to minimize the slipperiness of elevated platforms before sending workers to their respective job locations.

  1. Train Employees to Choose an Acceptable Anchor Point

The right lanyard and harness won’t do your employees any good if the anchor point is unable to hold the load. Workers, therefore, should know how to select an anchor point that will allow them to work safely at high altitudes.

What is an acceptable anchor point? It’s not a piece of steel you see on the roof. It’s also not a PVC pipe. You deem an anchor point as acceptable if it meets the following two conditions:

  • It can handle a load of 5,000 pounds
  • A professional engineer has calculated the anchor point’s expected load – and has approved it

You can have employees use structural steel with a proper beam clamp as an anchor point.

  1. Conduct Risk Assessments Periodically

Awareness of the risks and hazards associated with the work performed needs to be present at all times for both workers and employers. These hazards can change throughout a project. By performing regular risk assessments, your team can identify and address new hazards effectively. Your team will also be able to re-evaluate existing hazards to eliminate, prevent or mitigate workplace hazards.

Working at heights can be intimidating. As an employer, make your workers feel safe on the job by keeping these five safety tips in mind.

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