Work at height is one of the most dangerous types of work to carry out.
The most recent HSE statistics shows that 40 workers suffered a fatal injury as a result of a fall from height in 2018/2019, making it the single biggest cause of workplace fatalities.
The only way to minimise fatalities and injuries is by ensuring everyone meets their health and safety responsibilities.
But what are these responsibilities, and who is responsible for what?
If you are an employer, a site manager, or the owner of a site or premises, it is your legal responsibility to ensure the safety of those in your care.
Essentially, this includes anyone employed by you or accessing your site, either directly employed by you, or subcontractors.
Your first step should always be ensuring risk assessments are carried out regularly and when necessary.
A full and proper risk assessment will highlight all dangers on your site that could cause harm to those in your care, as well as the safety measures which should be implemented to counter them.
Risk assessments should also form the basis of your work policies, such as your work at height policy and rescue procedures.
You will also need to make sure all workers are competent and fully trained in the use of any equipment, such as harnesses and lifelines, which must be provided for all tasks which require them.
The onus is also on you to check the competency of any subcontractors brought in for a project. You can do this by requesting training certificates and company accreditations.
Though equipment needs to be inspected before each use by the user, managers are legally required to have all equipment properly inspected and recertified by a third party at least once a year.
Another vital responsibility is to see to it that all work is properly supervised, if not by yourself, then by a competent, trusted supervisor.
Supervisors must fully understand the hazards faced as well as all measures in place and be comfortable and capable suggesting improvements where necessary.
Safety on site, especially where work at height is concerned, is not just the responsibility of managers however.
Employees themselves must remain vigilant at all times, and utilise all training, equipment and policies provided to them.
An employer can tick all the boxes and provide everything the law requires of them, but if workers do not make use of this, it’s redundant.
As well as this, employees should also be competent enough to assess their own safety, and feel comfortable stopping work and reporting to their manager if they feel unsafe.
Though the responsibility for annual recertification lies with the employer, employees are still required to thoroughly inspect equipment before use, though they should be taught how to properly inspect equipment with the correct training.
Finally, it is important all employees behave safely and as expected in a dangerous and professional setting like a construction site or on a roof, and do not rush or skip steps to save time or effort.
A joint effort
When everybody is aware of their responsibilities and aims to meet them when on site, work can usually be carried out safely.
Work at height and construction in general are areas rife with inherent risk, and though it is impossible to completely remove these risks, they can be minimised when everybody does their bit.
To find out more about any of our products or services, or for advice on what you can do to ensure your site is as safe as possible, call Safesite on 01293 529977 or use our online contact form.