8th November 2016
A wide variety of occupations involve working from a height, where there is a risk of suffering serious injuries or even fatalities as a result of falling is part and parcel of the job. As a consequence, industries that are affected by this type of risk have, for some time, been under a duty to take the necessary actions to eradicate or reduce the risks associated with working at height. This has resulted in the development of various systems of fall protection, all of which are designed to prevent falls or, if a fall occurs, to minimise the injuries that the employee sustains.
Fall-Protection: an overview
Fall-Protection falls into three basic categories. The first of these is the fall prevention system, the second is the fall arrest or restraint system, whilst the third is fall cushioning.
Fall prevention, which as its name suggests, is designed to prevent a fall from happening, will normally take the form of equipment such as guard rails or parapets around the work station. These provide a barrier that should effectively remove the risk of a fall.
Fall Arrest and Fall Restraint
These types of fall protection system are designed to provide freedom of movement to workers, enabling them to reach locations from which they could fall but protecting them in the event that a fall occurs by arresting that fall. These systems involve the employment of body harnesses, anchorages, body belts, deceleration devices and lifelines.
In certain circumstances, it may not be possible to entirely remove the risk of a fall through a prevention system or provide total protection through fall arrest or fall restraint. In such cases, fall cushioning is the solution. Fall cushioning will normally take the form of safety nets or some type of fixed or portable fall protection bag.
Industries in which Fall-Protection is needed.
There are many industries in which fall protection is required. Indeed, in many cases, the implementation of appropriate fall protection measures and the employment of the correct fall protection equipment is a legal per-requisite. We set out below five of the industries that are most likely to require fall protection.
There are many tasks within the construction industry that entail working from height and, in fact, the construction industry is responsible for the greatest incidence of serious injuries and/or even deaths in the workplace as a result of falling from heights.
Roofing work, by its very nature, involves working at height. In addition, the access to the roof is also likely to involve the use of ladders and scaffolding , which will also require fall protection measures.
Warehouses are generally used for the storage of products and, in order to optimise the storage space available, the buildings are often of considerable height. Any worker needing to access products or repair.maintain the fabric of the building will need to be provided with fall protection.
Working on telegraph poles and telecommunication masts inevitably involves working at height, necessitating fall protection measures to be taken. These usually take the form of a safety harness that is securely anchored to the location where the work is being undertaken.
Tree surgeons frequently find themselves working at considerable heights, requiring fall protection. Once again, this is likely to take the form of a system of harnesses and anchorage.
Fall Protection is now an integral part of many industries. Although the risk of a fall can never be entirely eradicated, a carefully designed fall protection system, employing the correct equipment, will go a long way towards minimising the risks associated with working at height.