Guide to using hand tools at height
19 December 2016 11:27:27 GMT
If you’re going to work at height, you need to be conscious of the different safety issues involved. This is especially true if you are going to be working with hand tools due to the risk that they can pose to both you and other people around you. Here are some of the most important things to take into account if you’re going to be using hand tools while working at height.
Conduct proper risk assessments
Of course before you do any kind of working at height you should conduct a risk assessment so that you completely understand what the dangers are. When you’ll be making use of hand tools, you need to understand the different hazards associated with those tools. This is good practice if you’re simply carrying out DIY and tasks around the house, but it is a legal requirement if you’re on an industrial site.
Inspect your tools before you use them
Inspecting your tools is one of the most fundamental safety features if you are planning to use them at height. This is true for a number of reasons. If a tool breaks while you are using it, the force can take you completely off balance which could lead to falling from the ladder. Equally parts of broken tools that fall can present a huge hazard to people below you. The importance of inspection is especially true of any electric tools due to the associated risk with faulty electrical devices.
Maintain three points of contact with the ladder
Using a ladder is not always the safest possible way to work at height and sometimes it can be better to use a scaffold tower. However, in some situations a ladder is the only available option. It’s important to note that if you are going to use tools while you are on a ladder you must maintain three points of contact with the ladder at all times.
For some tools like a hammer, it may be possible to hold onto the ladder with one hand to use the hammer with the other. But if you’re using a tool that requires both hands, you’ll need to find another way to make a third point of contact with the ladder – for example, using your knee or chest.
Keep tools tethered to you
Did you know that being struck by falling objects is often the highest cause of fatalities in the workplace in according to HSE statistics? That means that you must take every possible precaution to ensure that dropped objects are not a risk to anyone below. You should always keep your tools tethered to you while working at height. This eliminates the risk of the tool falling into someone’s head below you.
It should also be noted that dropping a tool can be a risk to you as well as anyone below you. This is true because dropping the tool may cause you to attempt to catch it and put yourself in danger.
Take comfort into account
If you are tired or uncomfortable while you work at height, it can be a huge risk to you and those you are working with. While we might like to believe that we can stand a little discomfort, statistics show that workers that are not comfortable tend to be more careless and unsafe. If you are going to be using a ladder make sure that you are not standing on it for too long without a break. And ensure that any personal protective equipment fits you properly.