Working Height Falls

Topics: Barrier, Occupational safety and health, Safety Pages: 5 (1600 words) Published: February 28, 2013
Working Height Falls
Working at height
All construction activities are potentially hazardous. However, the largest number of accidents occurs with operatives who are working at a height. Falls can cause injuries to the back, neck, head arms and legs. This can result in temporary and permanent disabilities or death. Over the past ten years or so, falls from a height have accounted for between 34 and 59% of all fatalities in the construction industry. It should be noted that many falls involve young employees, aged less than 25 years. Falls can be classified as:

* falls from a height - from one level to another
* falls to a depth - into a hole
* slips, trips and falls - on the same level
There are various activities that require working at a height. These include: * installing and maintaining roofs
* placement of curtain walling, facade panels
* placement of concrete floor beams and slabs
* erection of building structures - steel, concrete, timber and traditional brick * repair, maintenance and demolition work
Various control measures are available to protect people working at a height. In some cases more than one method of protection may be appropriate. Falls often occur in the following situations:
* the working surface cannot support the applied load
* the working surface is slippery or unstable
* the operations are being carried out in high winds
* an operative trips over or is struck by an object
* an operative is moving from one level to another without proper access * there are unprotected holes in the working surface
* there are unprotected edges on the working surface
Wherever possible the designer should enable work operations to be performed at ground level thus eliminating the need to work at height. The hazards associated with the work operations should be identified and the risks assessed. Operatives who work at height should always have received the adequate and appropriate training to perform the task safely and in accordance with the risk assessment. Managing risks: And

Prevention of falls
The three levels of control, in order of preference are:
* Erection of a physical barrier
Physical barriers should be used to separate operatives from the place where they can fall from, for example an unprotected edge or fall through, for example a hole in a floor slab. Thus, physical barriers can include:

* edge protection systems
These are erected around the perimeter of a building structure or around the edge of a void within the building structure. They are usually made from some sort of guardrail that is between 900 and 1100 mm above the working surface. The guardrail should also have a mid-rail to prevent operatives falling through between the guardrail and the working surface. In addition, toeboards should be used to prevent persons and other items from falling off the working surface below the mid-rail. The edge protection system should be strong enough to withstand the force of an operative falling against them. See

for a brochure describing a steel mesh barrier edge protection system * fall protection covers
All holes in floor and roof slabs should be protected to prevent operatives falling through them. The cover used to protect the hole should be capable of supporting at least twice the weight of operatives or materials that may be placed on it and the impact of an operative falling onto it. Fall protection covers are usually made from solid sheeting of steel of plywood. Alternatively they may be made of steel mesh. However, mesh covers should not be used as a working platform. All covers should be securely fixed around the hole to prevent accidental displacement by operatives, equipment or the wind, equipment. Signs should be attached to the cover to warn operatives that there is a...
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