Working at Highs and Ladders, how does employment law impact

Working At Heights and how employment law factor in. The employment law dictates for the minimum acceptable conditions under which an employee can be allowed to work. Working at heights requires a lot of assessment and adequate preparation to ensure the safety of an employee.

More information on employment law


Risk Assessment

Working at heights involves the inherent risk of falling. Falling from a height of about 1 metre is associated with head injury, spinal cord injury or even fractures. The severity of injury due to a fall from a height increases with increasing distance from the ground. For this reason, a qualified person should assess the stipulated work place to identify any fall hazards. The person should then put in place preventive measures such as a guardrail system, travel restraint systems, an elevated work platform, ladders and step platforms. If after the guardrail system is fitted there is still a risk of employees falling, a fall protection or fall arrest system should be added. A fall arrest system can be in the form of safety harnesses, a catch platform or an industrial safety net.


Training of Employees

Adding these safety measures is not enough without offering the correct training to the employees. The employee should be able to use the harnesses and ladders correctly they should also have adequate training on how to use the fall arrest system. The training has to be carried out by a competent person who should offer additional visual aids such as written instructions. It is also mandatory for employees to use personal protective equipments such as helmets.


Types of Harnesses

Harnesses are part of the fall arrest system. They are employed when falling hazards cannot be ruled out and help to break the intensity of a fall if it occurs. The good safety harness is usually the cheapest available, it has universal sizing and is of a simple design. The better safety harness is adjustable, has more connection points and has padding and stretch points. The premium safety harness has breathable padding, with allowances for heat and hydration and has keepers to secure lanyards. The final type is the specialty harnesses which are made to fit a certain work environment.


How to Use Harnesses

All harnesses should be inspected first before they are worn. The straps should be checked for tears, every buckle should be tested for loosening and it is only put on when it is found to be safe. Once the harness is on the body, it should be inspected by a second person so as to ensure no straps are twisted or tangled. The D-ring should always be located between the user's shoulder blades. The harness is then safe for use.


Ladders

Platform ladders are preferred as they offer a wider and stable surface area for working. The ladder should have been inspected beforehand to ensure no steps are loose or missing. Once they have passed the safety inspection, they should be placed on firm, levelled non slip surfaces. Ladders should not be used on balconies. Once the user is at the top, the top of the ladder can be tied to a stationary surface to provide more reinforcement.


It is the right of employees working at heights to be provided with safe working conditions.