How to plan work at height properly

Posted 08 Aug 2018

Planning work at height properly is vital part of keeping workers, and others, safe. Whilst most contractors and employees know this, many often lack the knowledge to put these understandings into practice.

One of the most important parts of the process is auditing and risks assessments. Combined with ensuring all responsibilities are met, work at height can be carried out safely and efficiently.

Work at height policy

Before any work takes place, you should ensure you have a work at height policy, and if not, you should create one. It could be as simple as saying you do not work at height under any circumstances, but since the term is so varied, you may eventually need to carry out some form of work at height.

Consider how employees, contractors, visitors and members of the public could be affected by your work. The policy should be a strategic document which establishes procedures for working at height, as well as which controls could be implemented.

All roles and responsibilities should be clearly defined, which may even extend to senior managers with responsibility for ensuring the competence of all contractors.

Work at height audit

Your next step after establishing a work at height policy should be a work at height audit, an overall review of work at height procedures. All relevant procedures should be covered, such as:

  • Risk assessments: they should be completed, relevant to the specific past and reviewed regularly

  • Inspections: has the equipment been inspected regularly, with inspection sheets and reports completed?

  • Maintenance: if you’re going to be using access equipment, you should make sure it is maintained properly also

  • Ladders: is there a ladder register, is it up to date, and are items individually identifiable?

  • Lanyards and harnesses: are the register and inspection sheets up to date? Are items individually identifiable? Are users properly trained with correct emergency and rescue procedures in place?

  • Training: are all relevant personnel trained in equipment being used, are they trained in height awareness, and is that training up to date?

Assessing individual tasks

The next step should be to assess individual tasks. Responsibilities should be clearly defined and will vary depending on who is carrying out the task and how they are doing it.

A thorough risk assessment should be carried out along with the creation of a method statement for carrying out the work. If you are employing a contractor, they should provide you with this.

As always, make sure you ask for proof from the contractors they are trained and competent enough to carry out the work. Proof could include:

  • Relevant insurance details

  • H&S Policy

  • Training records for the task and equipment being used

  • Maintenance and inspection records for equipment being used

Though it can be difficult to make absolutely sure someone is competent, asking for the above goes a long way to fulfilling your obligations.

When you are happy with your own or, if hiring, the contractor's risk assessment and method statement, then you’re ready to get started.

For more information about carrying out work at height safely, or for any information on our products, solutions and services, call us on 01473 834 144 or use our online contact form.

by Carolyn Campbell

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