Working at height is a dangerous work activity that has numerous safety risks. It is responsible for nearly a third of all fatal accidents on construction projects. Employers need to ensure that workers are provided with proper safety equipment and that regular maintenance checks are made.
A large part of ensuring safety is to have safety officers performing regular risk assessment. They need to have all the training necessary to identify risks, such as knowledge for working at height, ladder inspection training, ladder safety training, and other safety aspects.
To make the inspection process easier, safety officers have a checklist of items they need to follow to ensure that the safety inspection and risk assessment process is straightforward.
Checklist for Working at Height Inspection
- Identify the Work at Height Activity
In this step of the process, safety officers pinpoint the specific work that employees must conduct. This ranges from setting the building framework, installing scaffoldings, fixing ceiling pipelines, painting at heights, etc.
This step determines the type of work being conducted, helps identify the risks and the safety measures to be taken for those risks.
This step also helps determine all the employees, members of the public, and any contractors that are at risk when the work is being carried out.
- Identify Hazards Present in Activity
This step identifies the hazards to workers or others that the activity presents, such as falling debris, objects, falls from height, fragile items, slipping, etc.
- What Control Measures are in Place
The type of risk control measures depends entirely on the risk identified for that activity. Avoiding unnecessary work at height, having supervisors present as well as emergency equipment are all necessities to minimise risk for workers.
- Are there Fragile Roods?
This is especially important for working at height above glass roofs or at areas where falling objects could result in significant damage or risk.
Safety officers check for preventative measures to minimise risk, such as prohibiting access to the roofs with fragile roofing, as well as placing warning signs where necessary.
- Ladders and Other Access Equipment
Safety officers have to check if the ladders used to access areas of height are safe to use and have to inspect everything regularly. Ladder safety inspection requires proper training and have specific usage instructions as well, and safety officers have to determine if the ladder safety measures are all followed.
Access equipment used to reach heights, such as platforms, scaffolding, and walkways also require railings, wide walkways, and sufficient edge protection.
- Open Edges
Open edges and vertical drops are considerable safety risks. In stair cases that are on edges and have considerable vertical drops require proper hand rails and fixed edge protection.
- Racking and Storage
Racking storage items should be avoided whenever possible. When conducting inspections, preventing workers from having to use lifts or ladders to access items in warehouses and storage areas is always a good practice, which starts from having adequate storage measures that prevent racking and placing one item on top of another.
If items have to be racked on top of each other, the staff needs to be provided proper equipment, safety measures, and training to do so.
- Worker Training
Worker training needs to be provided along with supervisors that can determine if they are working within the methods provided by their training. Safety officers have to ensure that the supervisors in place are competent and the training provided is adequate as well.
- Contractors and Work Safety
Employers need to ensure that the contractors they hire are all effective and have proper safety measures, policies, and risk prevention measures in place.
If a contractor is not working safely and ignore worker safety rules and regulations, the employer is responsible to immediately either stop working with them or enforce safety measures by contacting the relevant authorities if the issues are not rectified.
- Protective Equipment
Personal protection and protective equipment eliminate or reduces risk for injury when working at height, such as helmets, anchorage points for safe access to heights and ladders, and safety harnesses.
If safety officers make any observations regarding protective equipment, they also can note their observations.
Having adequate safety measures is all well and good, but safety officers also look towards further improving safety and reducing risks when conducting inspections and risk assessment.
The final piece of their inspection is to provide potential improvements and recommendations for what they notice over the inspections. As not all risks can be eliminated, recommending improvements can also depend on the risk of injury, fall, or damages according to the work being conducted.
Safety officers need to make sure that those working at height have their risks identified and safety measures in place. Regular inspections are necessary to ensure all equipment is maintained, safety is provided, and risk is eliminated where possible.