We know it is harsh. But this safety lesson should be one you will be able to remember easily.

Because if you are working at height – that is to say above six feet in the air, you must make sure that you have protection in place to stop yourself from falling. Or else you might end up six feet under pretty quickly.

As harsh as this sounds, it’s nowhere near as bad as it actually happening is.

Construction generally requires someone to clamber about like a monkey on a ladder, or high beams, or some piece of equipment or other.

Even within the asphalt paving contractor industry, it is possible you may be working on a raised surface or level of some description.

This may be the case for asphalt paving companies which specialize in asphalting roofing.

Whoever you are and whatever your role in the construction industry, you must have the right protection in place to stop a devastating accident from occurring, when working at heights.

Say for example you are at work in the asphalt plant. What are the safety precautions like in your workplace for the steep climb to the top of the silo?

What is the railing like around the top? Do you trust it? Is it firm enough? Do you think that you could rely on it to literally save your life, should you take a tumble up there?

As much as you don’t want to think about it, especially as you are clambering around at the top of a large height, falls are killers and the statistics around the subject make for grim reading.

According to a survey undertaken by the Center for Construction Research and Training, falls account for almost half of all deaths within the construction industry as a whole.

It gets worse, more than half of all workers who died had no fall protection in place at all.

And even worse still, in nearly a quarter of all fatalities, the safety precautions were available, but they just were not used.

This is similar to people dying because they didn’t wear a seat belt, in a car.

More food for thought comes in the news that in a fifth of cases, the deaths happened to new employees within the first eight weeks on the job.

This makes for very sobering reading and should reinforce in all team leaders minds the need for education and training of new recruits.

Using statistics compiled between 1995 and 2015 the findings concluded that;

  • 42% of all deaths involved falling at work.
  • 54% of the fatalities could have been prevented had they had proper protection in place, such as a personal fall arrest system.
  • 23% of the workers killed had access to these systems, but were not using them.
  • Most of the fatalities without access to a PFAS system were employed in roofing or residential construction.
  • In about a third of cases (107 of the 325 falls analyzed) the falls took place from thirty feet or higher.
  • 20% of fatalities were of new employees within their first two months on the job.


WHAT YOU CAN DO

Reviewing your company’s health and safety procedures around working at heights is a must for all managers.

And just because you have a guard rail in place, do not assume that this is adequate for total protection.

There is always more that you can do to improve the safety of your team.

Think about things such as employees tripping, whilst working at height. Or leaning or bending, whilst up there.

To prevent a tragedy, follow these tips;

  • The anchor. Always use an anchor. It should be attached to something sturdy, which will take its weight in full.
  • The connectors. These should be checked to make sure they all work with each other. Watch out for different brands, they won’t all link together properly.
  • The body harness. This needs to fit properly and be snug. There is no point in having it if it doesn’t fit correctly.
  • The line. You should have a deceleration device or shock absorber of some sort in place.

With careful checking and reviewing of safety procedures, you can do your best to try and prevent an accident from happening in your workplace.