Unavoidable work at height should be done from the safety of a platform. There should be suitable protection in place. Ladders may be used in working at heights safety as a means of getting access and should only be used for light work of short duration.
Working at heights in New Zealand remains one of the biggest causes of major injuries and occupational fatalities. Most reported cases commonly involve over-balancing, over-reaching, or the failure of a fragile surface. Falling from height can also be due to unguarded holes such as inspection holes, hatchways, and pits, and falls from machinery and process tanks.
Potential for a working platform to overturn or collapse, falling objects and contact with overhead electrical services are other significant hazards of working at heights. The exact height at which people have to implement controls will vary with the country but generally working at height can mean any work where a person could fall from a height that can cause an accident if there are no precautions in place. Workers in construction and maintenance are at risk but other people in a variety of jobs could also risk falling from a height. These professions include decorators, painters, window cleaners and people who carry out ad hoc work without proper planning, training or equipment.
Whatever the height you are working at, working at height should be planned in advance. You need to carefully consider the work equipment you use and any means of escape during an emergency.
Unavoidable work at height
Unavoidable work at height should be done from the safety of a platform. There should be suitable protection in place. However, sometimes it may not be possible. Ladders may be used in such situations as a way of working at heights safety in NZ. However, ladders are only used as a means of getting access and should only be used for light work of short duration. You should only use ladders after a careful risk analysis, hazard identification and proper planning.
If there is a fall from a height then the consequences will depend on a lot of factors such as the distance fallen, how the person land, the nature of the surface the person landed on, health and age of the person. The severity of the injury is more when the fall is into a tank that contains a hazardous substance or when the fall is into the path of a moving car.
Hierarchy of control measures
During the planning of any activities that may involve working at height, it is good to use the following hierarchy of working at height control measures.
- Try as much as possible to avoid working at height
- Use suitable work equipment to prevent any potential falls
- Use suitable equipment to minimize the consequences and the distance of a fall
- Follow the necessary training and instructions before, during and after working at heights
You should avoid working at heights NZ where possible. You can do most of the work on the ground and only work at heights on tasks that cannot be completed on the ground. You can even use some extendable tools and equipment to avoid the need for climbing a ladder. You can also install cables on the ground and lower the lighting rig to the ground or even assemble the edge protection on the ground.