Working at Height and PPE
Working at height remains one of the main causes of fatalities and severe injuries in the construction sector as well as other industries. Falls from height consistently feature in the top three work-related accidents in the UK, with an average of 11 fatalities each year as a direct result. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) estimates that working at height accounts for approximately 30% of all workplace deaths, with the construction sector particularly susceptible to the risks associated with working at height.
To minimise risks and hazards associated with working at height, we need to ensure that staff has the correct Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) when working at height. This is one of the most dangerous types of work and choosing the right PPE is essential to prevent falls and keep workers safe in the workplace. Our blog outlines five essential items of PPE designed for working at height:
1 – Safety Harness
A safety harness is an item of personal protective equipment used to prevent falls from height. It is designed to arrest a worker’s fall in the event they lose their grip on what they were holding or while working at height.
Safety harnesses work by connecting to an anchor point and distributing the force of impact over the entire body, reducing the likelihood of injury when falling backwards. They can be worn as part of a full body harness system or as a standalone item that attaches around the user’s waist before being attached to an anchor point using carabiner clips (also known as karabiners).
There are two main types of safety harness:
- Full body harnesses which cover both feet and legs
- And hip-harnesses which only cover your waist area from above but leave your lower limbs exposed (this type should not be worn alone).
2 – Lanyards and Connecting Devices
Understanding what a lanyard is and how they work is the first step to choosing the correct personal protective equipment for your job.
Lanyards are worn around the user’s waist and attached to their harness which provides them with additional protection from falling. The lanyard is then clipped into either the DBI-SALA Davit Hook or DBI-SALA Steellock Connecting Device, which allows for movement through space without the need for additional support, such as depending on a co-worker for safety assistance.
Many different types of lanyards are available on the market today. It is vital to choose a lanyard best suited for your needs before purchasing any equipment. They come in a wide variety of lengths, weights and sizes too with features including high quality webbing, hooks, carabiners and shock absorbers.
3 – Anchor Points and Access Equipment
The third element of PPE is anchor points, which should be installed by a competent person. Anchor points must be checked regularly and used according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
In addition to installing anchor points, access equipment should also be provided for use on the scaffolding or platform. This equipment should be used in accordance with manufacturer’s recommendations and only by personnel who are trained to do so.
4 – Work Restraint
A work restraint system is a safety device that prevents workers from falling if they lose their grip or balance. These systems are designed to stop a worker falling more than 2 metres, or 4 metres if the worker is wearing a harness.
The statistics on work related falls are alarming and sadly work at height accidents remain the single biggest cause of fatalities in the construction sector and indeed many other sectors. What makes work related falls from heights even more frightening is how easily avoidable most of these accidents are – by taking simple precautions and using appropriate protective equipment such as personal fall arrest systems (PFAS).
5 – Height Safety Helmet
A helmet is a protective head covering which may be worn to protect the head from injury. Helmets are designed to absorb shock and protect the skull from serious injury. They are useful for preventing or reducing damage from direct blows, debris from falling at height, and eye injuries or projectiles (e.g., hammering tools).
When considering what type of height safety helmet you need, there are many factors that you should keep in mind:
- It is first necessary to identify the task to be carried out by the worker as well as the constraints and risks of the activity that need to be provided for when selecting a safety helmet.
- Ensure that helmets used across the UK are manufactured to the applicable British Standard.
- Brimless helmets provide a wider field of vision when working at height.
- Be aware of vented helmets. Vents cannot be used for those working at heights. undertaking electrical work as cables may come into contact with the wearer through the vent.
- Chinstraps are required when wearing a helmet for working at heights.
- Ear and eye protection are required in many industries. Accessories for climbing helmets include attachable ear muffs, full-face visors, and eye shields.
- Ensure that the helmet conforms to the safety regulations
Why use PPE?
If you are working at height, it is vital that you protect yourself with the right PPE equipment. Not only will this help to minimise risks to both yourself and others around you, but it can also help to ensure compliance with health and safety laws.
At ITS we offer a wide range of working at height training inclusive of Tetra courses, Rescue from Height training, Harness Wearer / Inspection Training, Scaffold Erection, Inspection and Dismantle training, plus additional courses that cover most aspects of working at heights.
For more information visit or get in touch with us on 028 3839 8700 NI or 01 891 6105 ROI or visit our website for more information Working At Heights | ITS Health & Safety Training Northern Ireland (industrytrainingservices.com)