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Forgot Password? Although hand and arm injuries are the most common type of workplace accidentsfalls due to working at height are also a major reason of concern for employers. The of workplace accidents caused by slipping or stumbling and falling from height reached In The Netherlands, there were In the UK, the of accidents caused by falling at work was In what concerns the most affected industriesthe are as follows:.
As you can see, working at height can be a dangerous activity if safety precautions are not taken. How tall does a workstation need to be for workers to require special protection against falls? Are there specific pieces of equipment that one needs to use when working at a certain height? Are there particular working conditions that increase the risk of falling from height?
In general, any activity that involves working above ground or floor level, where there is a risk of falling from one level to a lower one, is considered work at height, and should be performed wearing proper fall protection equipment. In the UK, Belgium, Germany and Switzerland, certain obligations apply for activities carried out at heights of 2 meters or moreand in The Netherlands this figure is 2,5 meters.
In the European Union there were deaths caused by falls from height in the workplaceindeaths inand deadly falls from height in A fall from height happens rapidly and the consequences cannot be minimized in the absence of fall protection equipment. Since Earth gravity is 9. Thus, any worker carrying out tasks at a height should wear personal protection equipment PPE against falls.
CAUTION: Please be aware that the fall distance is not the same as the height of the work station, and also not the same as the height of the floor. When measuring the actual fall distance, you need to take into consideration the length of your lanyard when deployed, the body height of the worker below the belt or harness.
Although any activity carried out at height can be dangerous, there are some specific conditions that increase the risk of falling, and these include:. It is generally recommended to avoid working at height, but if it is unavoidable, the activity should be carried out from a safe platform, with suitable edge protection in place. Poor edge protection, unguarded openings, items that are not secured or are poorly stored, as well as work in areas without guardrails or cover can increase the risk of falling from height.
Ladders should not be used as work stations; they should just serve as means of gaining access to the workplace, and should only be used for short-duration tasks. If one is performing light work of short duration, then using a ladder might be acceptable, as long as all possible hazards have been properly identified and the existing risks have been evaluated. Keep in mind that changing weather conditions, wind, rain and snow can also make it more dangerous to work at height. Also, as already shown, some jobs and industries are at higher risk for falls.
Construction, agriculture, maintenance, road transport, painting and decorating, window cleaning and so on, are activities that should only be Work at height hook up to safety out with proper fall protection in place.
Fall protection equipment can be classified into personal protection equipment PPE and collective protection equipment. In situations where there is a risk of falling, appropriate equipment such as scaffolding, aerial work platforms, safety nets and racks should be used. However, when collective safety measures are insufficient, PPE should be worn.
The work at height environment dictates the type of equipment that one should use. To be effective, PPE needs to be comfortable to wear, needs to leave room for manoeuvre, and needs Work at height hook up to safety be adapted to the specific work and weather conditions.
Also, before any piece of equipment is chosen, a thorough risk analysis should be conducted for identifying the proper collective and personal safety measures that should be taken. Given below are the main types of PPE and collective protection equipment, as defined by European standards.
Explore our full assortment of fall protection equipment, including harnesses, life lines, fall arresters, safety nets, grips and hooks. See the assortment Personal protection equipment Personal protection equipment includes Work at height hook up to safety arrest systems, positioning systems, suspension systems and retrieval systems.
Fall arrest systems are systems used for stopping the falling worker in the event of a fall from height. These are required whenever there is a risk for a worker to fall from an elevated position, or whenever an activity is carried out at a height of 2 meters or more. Fall arrest systems are deed to only come into service if a falls occur. Typical FAS consist of anchor devices, a full body harness and connecting devices.
For example, a full-body harness with a shock-absorbing lanyard or a retractable lifeline is a very common combination. The full-body harness distributes the forces throughout the body, while the lanyard or lifeline decreases the total fall arresting forces. The anchoring device ts the connecting device to the anchorage point or tie off point, which can be an l-beam, scaffolding or other structural point. The harness is worn by the worker and mush enable him to work freely, without restrictions, while providing sufficient protection against falls.
The connecting devices can be shock absorbing lanyards, self-retracting lifelines, fall limiters or rope grabs. A full-body harness consists of interconnected shoulder and leg straps with or without a body belt. The harness is deed to distribute the arrest forces over the body, to those areas that can absorb the shock without ificant injuries. At the same time, the harness should prevent the wearer from falling out of the assembly The full-body harness is connected to the lanyard or lifeline, and keeps the worker in upright or near upright position while working and in case of a fall.
The connectors are the components that connect all the pieces of the fall arrest system, so they link the body harness to the lanyard or lifeline, and the lifeline to the anchorage points. These connectors need to be strong enough to withstand the fall arrest forces, but still small enough to fit in the fall arrest systems without bothering the wearer. Connectors come in different shapes and are deed to stay locked in case of a fall. Carabiners, D-rings, O-rings, self-locking connectors, snap hooks are some examples of connectors used for linking together the elements of a fall arrest system.
Please note that snap hooks and carabiners have to be self-closing or self-locking in order to be suitable for these systems. It connects the body harness to the anchorage point or to a static line, and may or may not be adjustable in length. Although most lanyards are individual cords, there are also twin lanyard systems where two separate lanyards are connected together in a system that allows the user to remain protected when moving from one anchorage point to another. Lanyards come in many sizes and materials, for example nylon rope lanyards, wire rope lanyards, synthetic web lanyards etc.
Please be aware that is it not recommended to connect two lanyards to one another if you need a longer connection between the anchorage point and the body harness.
In such cases, you should use a longer lanyard or a lifeline of adequate length. It can be incorporated in the lanyard or added as a separate component. Please note that energy absorbers have expiration dates, meaning that they should only be used for the period of time indicated by the manufacturer. After that, it is recommended to avoid using the absorber, even if it is intact and was never deployed for arresting a fall. Lifelines are flexible lines made of synthetic materials or rope, wire or webbing, which run vertically or horizontally, as connections between anchorage points and the workers.
They can replace lanyards, depending on the job. Lifelines have to be properly maintained and stored, to avoid abrasion or damage along their length, and should be strong enough to support the weight of the worker plus the arrest forces, in case of a fall.
A particular type is the self-retracting lifeline SRLwhich consists of a cable or tape wound around a drum. This device acts like a car seatbelt in the event of a fall, meaning that when Work at height hook up to safety fall occurs, the cable or tape is pulled out of the casing, and a brake is applied to the drum, stopping the wearer from falling.
Most SRL have integrated shock-absorbing systems, therefore do not need an extra energy absorber connected. Positioning systems are systems and pieces of equipment that hold an operator in his place of work, while leaving his hands free for work. These systems are activated whenever the worker leans back, but are not deed for fall arrest purposes. This means that such systems only restrain a person in a hazardous work position and reduce the risk of falls, but do not eliminate it.
Thus, it is recommended to use a back-up fall arrest system whenever using a positioning system. A typical positioning system includes an anchoring device, a full body harness with a position belt and connecting devices, such as work-positioning lanyards. Suspension systems act similarly to positioning systems, being deed to lower and support a worker, allowing a hands free work environment.
They are also not deed for fall arrest, Work at height hook up to safety a back-up fall arrest system must be used in combination with suspension ones.
A typical suspension system consists of anchor devices, two ropes — one equipped with a descender and one equipped with a rope grab, and a full body hardness. Such systems are used for example in the window washing and painting industries. A rope grab or fall arrestor is used when workers need to move vertically, and is positioned between the lifeline and the lanyard, sliding freely on a vertical rope or on a rail or lifeline. In case of a sudden movement such as a fall, the device grabs the lifeline and holds it firmly, arresting the fall. Retractable lifelines have rope grabs incorporated.
Retrieval systems are used for retrieval in the event of a fall. Rescue manoeuvres and evacuation equipment for retrieving an injured worker from a high access position should be included in the pre-planning of work at height operations and should be taken into consideration when developing a fall management program.
Such systems consist of rescue and evacuation devices, such as chest harnesses. Work restraint systems can also be used for Work at height hook up to safety workers from approaching a position from which they could fall. Such systems include anchor devices, work resistant belts or full body harnesses, and connecting devices such as restraining lanyards. Collective protection equipment is sometimes the only protection needed against falls.
In such situations where passive protection is used, workers only need to stay inside the rails to avoid falls. Guardrails can be installed on a permanent or temporary basis, and the type of roof construction has to be taken into for choosing the proper system. Horizontal lifeline systems consist of a series of anchor points connected by wire rope, the rope track following the contour of the roof. The worker hooks up once, and uses a slider or runner that goes along the track, following the user. Such a system offers freedom of movement while ensuring safe working conditions at height.
If needed, the anchor points and rope system can also be used in the centre of the roof, in this case the solution being more cost-effective. Another method to ensure collective protection against fall is to install a temporary scaffold to support the workers carrying out activities at height.
This system is usually modular, made of a series of pipes Work at height hook up to safety tubes, and enables workers to easily carry materials at height, if performing construction or maintenance activities. Scaffolds are commonly made of metal or aluminium, the latter being more lightweight and durable.
Safety nets are also used as collective protection equipment against falls. The nets are positioned beneath the worksite, covering the entire floor and being fixed to the structure. In some cases, the net is used only for covering a fall-catching area. NOTE: In a lot of cases, accidents and falls occur not on the work platform itself, but on the equipment used for accessing the workplace.
For example, mobile access towers and elevating platforms, suspended access and positioning devices and portable ladders can lead to falls from height, if manoeuvred improperly. The EN Standard — Personal protective equipment against falls from a height — General requirements for instructions for use, maintenance, periodic examination, repair, marking and packaging - requires manufacturers to emphasize the importance of regular inspections Work at height hook up to safety serve to establish that the product is operating properly.
Regular maintenance is also recommended, depending on the type, frequency of usage and environmental factors. Maintenance activities should be carried out at least once a year, by an authorized person, in accordance with the procedures established by the manufacturer.
Other standards exist for specific PPE, as shown in the table below:. Before starting any activity at height, one should asses all potential risks, including the workers on the ground that may be affected by falling objects. If parts of a machine can be dismantled or assembled on the ground, then workers should avoid performing such activities at height. When assessing the risks, one should look at the workplace — what machines are there, what materials and equipment, how does the environment look like, and should search for potential sources of risk — for example, working close to a void, or on a fragile surface, or at height.
Then, one should evaluate the tasks, duration, frequency and posture of the workers during the activities performed at height. Also, they should asses the competence and experience of the workers. As much as possible, the work conditions should be adapted to the workers and the risks should be eliminated. At the same time, an overall prevention policy should be developed, so that all workers know how to act to avoid or in case of an accident. Although wearing personal protection equipment can make one feel safer and may seem like a simpler solution for preventing accidents, it is not always necessary for workers to wear PPE.Work at height hook up to safety
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The Safety DO’S and DON’TS of Working At Heights