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Written by
on 13 July 2012


More often than not very few people would or do agree comfortably to work at heights due to anxiety and fear of falling and such other risks involved. However, with proper precautions and proper planning, working at heights can just be as easy as working on a ground level. To make this more practical, below is a highlight of a few steps to ensure safety while working at heights, based on Mobile Elevating Work Platform(s) (MEWP(s)). When we talk of working at higher heights this means any work done above the ground, whereby one is required to be elevated or elevate themselves to a higher level above the ground, such as washing the windows, cleaning the gutters, building, working on cranes, pruning trees and electing storey houses, just to mention but a few.

Working at Height, plan, prepare and assess all risks

The first step to consider is planning. Planning is always the initial plan and very important, as it helps to properly place all the necessary requirements and tools to be required. This includes planning on how to comfortably work at height. For instant, if cleaning gutters or windows, proper planning ensures that all that is required for the same is well put in place, and the way to reach that high place is well in place and the stability checked, for instant if one is to use a ladder.

After planning it is good to carry out risk assessment. Workplace Risk assessments means getting to assess, is the place safe for working? What are the possible risks that are likely to occur while working at such a height? How can such risks be avoided or evaded? Look around for any seemingly obstruction that may be unnoticed from the planning stage. Make sure that the ground level on which the elevator will be standing on is properly levelled and ensure that there is nothing that can distract its placement from the ground and if any is noted, ensure that it is dealt with immediately. Assumption is not allowed while working at heights, and nothing should be left to chances.

Another step to factor in is to ensure that you use the right mobile elevating work platform (MEWP). Having the right elevation equipment or machine for a given particular work is very important. This also means that you should always consider more than one piece of equipment such as ladders, cranes and mobile lifts. This facilitates easy in movement while ensuring that one will not be deterred should one equipment fail or get destructed. Also, when the work involve more than one person, it is good to ensure that the elevating equipments are enough, just in case something happens while at work that may require every person to get to the ground the fastest way possible.

Last but not least, ensuring that the site at work or rather the height where the work is to be conducted meets the legal approval of the government at hand. By this I mean the legal requirement for planning for anyone working at height. This means taking care of the emergency calls that may arise, before they even arise. This ensures that there is swift rescue to someone working at heights should a risk arise or they get trapped. This should be done by ensuring that there is someone or track or what is happening at height, every given minute.

Coupled with others, using these simple steps ensures health safety while working at heights. Kevin works for Promax access, were he oversees the safety training on some of the powered access mobile platforms.

About the author

David Cant is a Director at Veritas Consulting. The SME’s favourite go-to consultant for health and safety know-how. Bucket loads of experience. Fluent in practical advice. Solutionist with a brain you can pick. You can find him across social media on Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin.