When working at a great height, there are many hazards and potential dangers to be aware of. Whilst most hazards seem obvious and preventable, 28% of all fatalities from construction in 2017 were caused by heights, meaning there are still dangers to be recognised.
From wobbly footing to unstable platforms, injuries sustained from heights can be life-impacting, even deadly in some circumstances. It’s important to be aware of all possible hazards from the ground up before beginning your project in the sky.
Over 60% of all deaths at height include falls from ladders, platforms, access spaces and scaffolding, making it the most common problem facing the safety of construction workers. A fall from a height can lead to broken bones, brain damage, paralysis and death, as well as endangering other workers on the ground below.
But there are ways to lower the possibility of this happening. Extra safety measures, such as harnesses, reinforced access platforms, secured ladders and cleared ground areas can help to prevent falls from happening at dangerous heights.
A significant number of construction injuries can be contributed to falling objects from great heights during building. Workers can be injured, initially from dropping the object itself, or from being caught underneath it when it falls. Even small objects can be fatal when dropped from a height, especially if they injure the workers head or neck.
The easiest way to prevent this from happening is to secure the area below a site of open construction and to encourage all heights workers to use sacks or bags to carry equipment with them. Increased communication between workers is also crucial to alert those on all levels of falling or loose objects and to warn lower workers when work is beginning.
Poor Weather Conditions
Uncontrollable, yet dangerous; poor weather conditions when working at heights can increase the likelihood of injury or death to construction workers. Heavy winds, rain and snow can make surfaces wobbly, slippery or unsafe to stand on, making it harder for workers to keep their balance and hold onto scaffolding effectively.
Although bad weather isn’t always predictable, it’s never worth taking a chance on someone’s life. Check the forecast before sending any workers up, and ensure that you have a clear emergency rescue plan to secure them again should the weather turn dangerous.
One of the most difficult tasks facing workers at height is the circumstances of an injury sustained, with no feasible way down to the ground. When cuts, loss of consciousness, broken bones or illnesses occur, the worker is then on a time limit to reach the ground as efficiently and safely as possible, without sustaining further injury or risking the lives of other workers.
Creating emergency plans to be put in place for even the most unlikely of situations, whether it be a direct line to the emergency services or rescue from above, could end up saving precious lives. Make sure that all workers, both on the ground and working up high, are aware and able to carry out this procedure before beginning their work.
Whilst it’s impossible to secure against every hazard, there are so many ways to protect both yourself and your workers when building at heights. By using only trusted and tested safety and security equipment, carrying out regular safety surveys and being aware of these hazards, your crew can remain as safe as possible working up high.