Undoubtedly working at height is one of the most dangerous activities involved in construction and building maintenance. You are classified as working at height any time that you need to carry out work above the ground or anywhere that there is a lower level that you could fall to if safety measures were not put in place. This could mean using anything from a ladder or scaffold tower to any location where there is a drop or hole. Aside from the inherent risk of falling, working at height also presents the hazards of items falling from the height onto a person below.

With all of this in mind, it is essential to wear the correct personal protection equipment (PPE) in order to keep you safe while you are working. Supervisors have a duty of care to ensure that workers wear the correct equipment for the tasks they are carrying out, so whether you are an employee or employer it’s vital that you know exactly what should be worn for work at height.

Gloves

For many jobs in construction and maintenance it can be important to wear protective gloves. However, you need to balance the need for protection alongside your dexterity and ability to grip properly at height. Be sure that your gloves are capable of fulfilling both functions or it can leave you vulnerable.

Footwear

Your footwear should have non-slip soles to ensure that you have as much grip as possible while on the ladder or scaffolding. It should also provide support to the foot and ankle, as well as remaining comfortable throughout the day.

Helmet

Due to the fact that items can fall from height it is vital that anyone working in this environment should wear a hardhat. This will protect you if something falls onto the top of your head. It should be noted that your helmet should be fixed with a strap around the chin. This is not only for your own safety but also to ensure that the hat itself does not fall from your head at height and potentially hit someone below.

Eye protection

If you need to make use of eye protection while you are working at height, you need to ensure that it can be worn in conjunction with other vital PPE. Remember that you will need to wear a helmet, so your eye protection needs to be able to fit properly within the helmet. If you have to take off your head gear to wear the goggles (even if only for a short time) then those pieces of equipment are not suitable to be used together. Equally if you need to wear glasses then your eye protection should allow this; reducing your ability to see is not an acceptable compromise in order to wear PPE.

Correct equipment

Perhaps the most important thing to note about working at height is that the equipment you use is more important than the safety gear itself. If you use ladders or scaffolding that is not suitable for the job, even excellent PPE will not be enough to protect you. This could be something as simple as a scaffold tower with a properly designed barrier or it could relate to fall arrest systems and correct harnesses to catch you if you fall. Ensure that any equipment you use is designed for the job you are using it for and that it is in good condition.