By Nick Blodans
Safety is the number one priority when it comes to working at height. Safety regarding the working individual, the co-workers directly or indirectly involved, and the other lives and exposures that may be present or near the work you are carrying out.
No matter what method or type of work it should all begin the same way. Start by planning the job, identifying the hazards, choosing equipment that’s right for the job, and developing a written work plan/rescue plan prior to commencing the work. Outlined below are some easy ways to keep safety a top priority, and to make sure that you are on top of the work that’s going around you.
The objective of job planning is to create a work environment that maximizes safety and minimizes the risk of error. This takes in account standards, legislation and company procedures. Developing a job plan incorporates the following components:
– site, address
– Purpose, type/method
– Emergency contacts
– Expected nvironmental Conditions
– Job hazard analysis
– Rescue plan
Once equipment and personnel are identified, it is best to designate an equipment manager. This person should be competent and have knowledge of the right equipment for the job pertaining to PPE, work tools, emergency equipment, documentation, and inspection. Equipment should be inspected incrementally (6 months, one year) and tactically prior to every use. The equipment manager is also responsible for maintaining (cleaning, storing, repairing etc.) equipment when necessary.
Lastly, it’s imperative to design a work plan prior to starting a new job. The work plan is essentially an action plan stating how the work is to be done, and how it will be done safely. The work plan includes but not limited to:
– The method of work
– Personnel/equipment plan
– Job hazard analysis/risk assessment
– Expected conditions
– Rescue/emergency plan in the event of an accident
When everything is safely considered prior to the job we can effectively deal with the “if and when” something occurs. Using these methods will help prevent, identify, isolate, control or remove a potential hazard before it becomes an issue.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t just end there. Environmental concerns such as wind, weather, temperature, atmospheric conditions as well as the physical work environment, conditions, and new hazards are at question every day. Due to the ever changing environment of working at height we must keep adapting to these changes – constantly stressing safety. Implementing these programs will ensure you start a job safely, but proper management and constant communication will keep the work safe.
This is why toolbox talks and daily meetings are essential to the start of every day. If your supervisor isn’t doing it then you should propose it. Remember, working at height should not ever be a risky or dangerous job and it’s up to everyone to ensure that. There is no reward worth the risk when doing unsafe work. After all It’s just a job, and we all need ours safely to make it home at the end of the day.