Working at height is part and parcel of many permanent and temporary work projects. Because of the well-established risks involved in working at height, which have given rise to the introduction of regulations to protect the workforce, it is important that those who are involved in managing the project give due consideration to certain important matters if the risk of a fall is to be kept to a minimum.
Introduced in 2005, the Work at Height Regulations aimed to reduce the risk of injuries and fatalities arising as a result of a fall from height and they apply to anyone project managing works from a height. The regulations impose certain requirements that seek to achieve that aim. In summary, the regulations require the following considerations for project managers.
It is essential that project managers are aware of what constitutes working from a height. It involves working in any location (excluding a staircase) where injuries could be caused if the worker falls. It includes working in a place at or below ground level. The key element is, therefore, the risk of injury if a fall occurs, rather than the extent of the height.
All project managers whose team is working at height should be aware of the substantial evidence of the inherent risks involved. Many accidents in the workplace are caused by working at height and these often involve injuries of the utmost severity and even fatalities. In order to be able to protect their team from those risks, project managers need to be fully aware of them in the first place.
Different types of project and different work locations pose different risks. For this reason, each individual project should be the subject of a tailored risk assessment by the project manager, so that the necessary protective measures can be matched to the specific circumstances of the project.
Once the necessary assessment has been undertaken, the project manager should draw up a plan to deal with the risks identified by that assessment. The plan will include the identification of a team that is competent to carry out the work in question and the provision of the appropriate protective equipment for the particular project to remove or minimise the risk of injury being sustained as a consequence of a fall. Clearly, once the plan has been formulated, its protective measures need to be transmitted to the team so that they are fully aware of their personal responsibilities under the plan.
Although employees have a general duty to take reasonable care of themselves and their co-workers, project managers are still required to supervise a project involving working at height in order to ensure that the plan that they have produced to reduce the risk of a fall is followed.
It is impossible to completely remove the risks associated with working from a height. However, the adoption by project managers of the above measures will go a long way towards reducing the risk and, even if a fall occurs, to reducing the degree of the injury that is sustained as a consequence. For soft fall landing systems designed to support your working at height project take a look at the Fall-Pac products.