The Importance of Fall Protection
Falls are one of the most common causes of serious injuries and deaths in the workplace. Therefore, it is essential that employers have effective safety measures in place to reduce the risk for their employees.
Dangers to employees include falling off overhead platforms or elevated workstations, or into holes in walls or floors.
Working at height: the law
Employers need to comply with the Health and Safety Executive’s Work at Height Regulations 2005. Any work at height requires employers to ensure work is properly planned and that it is supervised and carried out by people who are competent. As an employer, you also need to make sure the right type of equipment is used for working at height.
You should ensure that relevant supervisors are competent, possessing the appropriate experience, knowledge and skills to carry out the task of supervision. They should be capable of knowing in what situations it is necessary to provide fall protection such as guard rails and fall arrest protection such as safety harnesses, ensuring they are correctly put on and properly connected to an anchor point.
Common cause of accidents
Working at height poses risks for any employee and there are several common causes where accidents may occur. The following examples may be fragile and require special care:
- Roof lights
- Corroded metal sheets and non-reinforced fibre cement sheets
- Slates and tiles
- Rotted chipboard
Accidents on fragile roofs are preventable and employers should implement safe working practices as well as being aware of maintenance issues on roofs that have not been addressed.
Employers are responsible for the wellbeing and safety of their employees and could be liable to prosecution if found to be at fault for an accident occurring.
Types of fall protection
Anyone working at height undergoes the risk of falling, but there are many ways an employer can address these risks, depending on what industry they are related to. Systems include:
- Roof safety systems: all roofs need safe access for general maintenance, inspections and work for repairs. Ladder safety systems, either wire-based or rail-based, can provide security when entering and exiting a rooftop area.
- Guardrails edge protection: this is a collective system, as opposed to a personal protective system, and provides permanent edge protection for roofs when maintenance and inspections require regular access.
- Collective fall protection: systems are designed for fragile rooftops, walkways, skylights and ladders gantries. They can provide security for fragile roofs and skylights and for safe working on tiled roofs that have a steep incline.
- Fall protection anchor points: for workers doing high level window cleaning or general maintenance jobs, single anchor points and eyebolts are designed for individual fall protection. Workers can clip their safety harness into permanently installed sockets to make a secure anchor.
Fall reduction and safety for employees
Responsible employers will always look for the best ways of protecting employees who work at height. There are clear guidelines form the HSE to follow and investing in protective measures will ensure that employees have confidence in what is place so their risk is reduced, and as an employer you will be confident that you are obeying the legislation and doing the right thing for your workers.