1 min read

Working at heights: how to reduce the risk of falls from heights

By Joanna Weekes

After Tuesday’s Health & Safety Bulletin which looked at some surprising statistics found regarding work-related injuries caused by falling from a height, today we have some information for you about when a fall risk may exist and some ways that you can reduce those risks.

Working at heights refers to any circumstance in which a person is exposed to a fall risk. Fall risks occur in many situations, but some common examples of fall risks include the following:

  • climbing on top of trucks or loads;
  • using a ladder;
  • working from an unprotected roof edge;
  • standing on a platform close to a pit or hole;
  • working near an unprotected trench.

Remember, even if it is not a regular occurrence or part of the inherent role of the worker to work from heights, a worker can still be exposed to a risk of falling and since they do not perform the task regularly, the appropriate control measures may not be in place. Do not let this happen. Workers who change a light globe in an office, access high storage areas in the stationery cupboard or change outdoor display signs are all at fall risks.

Methods of controlling fall risks include:

  • Travel restraint devices: tie a worker to an anchor point to prevent them reaching an unprotected edge;
  • Fall protection covers: cover holes and openings to prevent persons or objects falling through;
  • Guardrails: prevent access to unprotected edges;
  • Fall restraint systems: prevent a falling person from coming into contact with a hard surface;
  • Fall arrest systems: a strap or harness attached to a line to prevent a person falling to the ground;
  • fixed or temporary work platforms: provide stable access to high workplaces; and
  • elevated work platforms: allow workers to work at a variety of heights, e.g. boom and scissor lifts.

Another hazard associated with a worker working from a height is the risk that a person or object will fall and hit another worker below – so take that into account when you conduct your risk assessment as well, e.g. whether the workers are using tools that are unsecured and could be dropped from a height.

So make sure that you consider ALL circumstances where your workers may be at a fall risk – because you don’t want to become one of the statistics.

Subscribe to the Health & Safety Bulletin

From the experts behind the Health & Safety Handbook, the Bulletin brings you the latest work health and safety news, legal updates, case law and practical advice straight to your inbox every week.

Sending confirmation email...
Great! Now check your inbox and click the link to confirm your subscription.
Please enter a valid email address!