Whether you are working on a ladder or a scaffold tower you need to make sure that it is safe. If work at height is not managed correctly and proper risk assessments are not carried out it can be a major risk both for the person at height and those within the vicinity. Here are the things you need to watch out for, and how to ensure they don’t pose a risk.

The risk: injury from falling

Undoubtedly the key risk associated with anyone working at height is that they will fall and be injured. Whether it’s from a ladder or scaffold tower, falling is an issue that could result in serious injury or even death. This risk is heightened if the employee or the employer have not taken the necessary steps to minimise the risk of falling including using the correct safety equipment, planning the work thoroughly and ensuring all workers involved are competent.

What is the solution?

Given the obvious dangers associated with working at height, it is vital that everyone involved makes sure that the work is safe to do. Employers and managers have a duty to protect their employees from the risk of fall injuries. As such they should complete a proper risk assessment any time that an employee is expected to carry out work at height. It should also be noted that it’s not only the obvious issues like when working on a ladder that needs to assessed. For example, any time a worker is expected to carry out tasks above an open pit or the edge of elevated structures, this needs to be managed.

The risk: dropped objects

It is not only the worker who is working at height that can be put at risk by this sort of work. Any time there is anyone directly below the work at height there can be a risk that they will be struck by falling objects – this includes both other workers and members of the public if you are above a public area. Even relatively light objects which are dropped from a height can pose a significant risk to people below, especially if they aren’t wearing appropriate head protection.

What is the solution?

Once again the first step in this process falls to the employer or manager of the situation. It is up to them to complete a risk assessment to help understand who could be at risk from falling objects and to understand what is the best way to make sure that people are not put in danger. Initially you need to make it as unlikely as possible for objects to fall, for example by providing safety equipment such as belts to store tools in. Equally workers need to be trained to ensure they are aware of the dangers that falling objects can pose.

Equally, anyone who is walking around on the level below the work at height should be required to wear head protection. Consider who is likely to come into this workspace and come up with a solution that allows them to avoid the area or provides them with appropriate protection.