Today we have a guest post from Gavin Coyle, CEO of Coyle Group. Here’s a little bit about him and his organization:

Author Gavin Coyle is CEO of Coyle Group, a health and safety recruitment agency with a special focus on the Oil & Gas, Construction, Renewables, Engineering and Power Generation industries. Gavin is a seasoned and highly respected expert in the field of health and safety, with Coyle Group sustaining a growing list of international clients including Siemens, Alstom and Doosan.

Mr. Coyle has written this article about how to avoid the dangers of heights while working in construction. Here is his article:

Approximately one in five serious incidents on construction sites occur as a result of a fall from height. The everyday dangers of working from heights are prevalent in construction where climbing a ladder, scaling scaffolding or working from a scissors lift are typical daily requirements for many tradesmen and workers on site.

In acquiring their permits or licences to work on a construction site, workers will likely undergo training regarding safety best practices for working from heights. However, it is the role of the site manager and ultimately the hiring construction company to ensure that these best practices are adhered to, their safety policies followed and all potential risks consistently analysed where their workers are required to work from heights.

As well as ensuring to hire only personnel who have the knowledge, skills and training to work safely from heights, construction managers should also take charge of initiating best practices on site.

Avoid working from heights if possible

Site managers and foremen need to consistently analyse the need to work from heights. If at all possible, it is advisable to avoid working from heights if practical to do so. Working from a height presents an instant increase in site safety risk and so as much work as possible should be conducted from the ground.

Ensure the provision of the correct safety equipment and gear

Assess the most appropriate safety equipment and gear necessary to conduct the works while ensuring the most minimal risk to the safety of personnel. Although it may be feasible to conduct the works at a height supported by a ladder, it is important to consider all potential influential factors such as the surface below, the surface the ladder must lean against, the weather and the experience of personnel in deciding which equipment is the best fit for the job.

Minimize the distance of fall

Do not work at any unnecessary heights. Ensure personnel are elevated to work at the minimum required height without needing to overreach to minimize the potential distance of a fall. Consider the use of a safety harness or safety net if the distance of fall could cause injury.

Regularly inspect safety equipment

All equipment safety inspections should also extend to any equipment used for working at height, even if the equipment is not being used regularly or if the project probably won’t use such equipment. Often the equipment used for working from heights is needed unexpectedly so you need to be assured that they are in perfect condition to facilitate works safely and securely.

Don’t use ladders for extensive tasks

Ladders are designed to support personnel as they conduct tasks which are short in duration, typically 30 minutes or less. Personnel should not be permitted to remain working from a ladder for longer than this period of time. For tasks which require several hours to be spent working at height, it is advisable to consider the use of other equipment such as scaffolding or a scissors lift.

Don’t allow any unqualified personnel to work from heights

Ensure that any workers or tradesmen who scale a ladder, work on scaffolding or conduct works from a scissors lift are experienced in doing so and are familiar with each of the above safety practices. A quick assessment of a site worker’s knowledge of working from heights should be conducted before they use any equipment.

Adhering to the above best practices can not only save significant costs but most importantly, it can save lives. Never underestimate the danger of working from heights in construction.