Ways to keep your team safe when working at high heights
Here’s a staggering fact: Each day in the United States, 2,000 people are injured in ladder-related incidents.
On average, 100 of those people suffer permanent disabilities and one is killed, according to the president of the American Ladder Institute.
If you have employees working at elevated heights, it’s important to take proactive steps to ensure their safety. Elevated falls include falls from ladders, upper stories, scaffolds, stairs and more. Elevated falls can also occur when large truck and equipment operators mount or dismount the machine.
One way to dramatically reduce the risk of falls is to determine how to minimize or even eliminate work at elevated heights. Can more tasks be performed at ground level? What can you do to minimize instances where a fall may be possible?
Minimize risk whenever possible
Once you’ve minimized the risk for falls, you’ll want to incorporate as many safety measures as possible for those instances where working at an elevated height is absolutely necessary. Some steps your company can take include:
- Install railing or cables at locations where employees will have to work or travel near the edge of a structure.
- Identify potential fall hazards and control them. This includes nonskid climbing, properly placed handholds and lighting.
- Areas without railings, such as one where the risk for falling isn’t immediately obvious, should be barricaded and clearly marked with warning signs where the hazard for falling is.
- Handles and railings should always be in usable condition. This means they should not have any grease, oil or substances that would make them difficult to grasp.
- Where necessary, provide additional steps, non-slip surfaces and handholds.
Establish a strong safety culture with your employees
Your employees need to understand the importance of fall protection. Empower your employees by providing them with information so they better understand the risks involved. Make fall protection a requirement when employees work at high heights.
Safety should be a 24/7 practice. Here’s what we recommend for your employees:
- Use fall protection with a lanyard anchored securely when working where there is a potential for falling.
- Wear proper footwear with good support and slip resistance. Before ascending or descending any heights, employees should clear their boots of any mud to avoid slick conditions.
- Always use three points of contact when ascending or descending a ladder or steps. This means both feet and at least one hand or both hands and one foot are contacting the equipment at all times.
- Don’t use a doorframe or door edge as a handhold. Likewise, don’t try to climb or descend with something in your hand. Be sure to have a firm grip on rails or handles.
- Avoid jumping from a step or ladder rung before reaching the bottom or intended surface.
Looking for more ideas on how you can ensure the environment your employees work in is safe or other ideas on how you can reduce your exposure to losses? Subscribe to the BITCO blog.
For information purposes only. BITCO's blog content does not address all potential circumstances and is not a substitute for business, safety, or legal consultation.