Construction Safety Week 2019 – Day 3: Working Safely at Heights

Wednesday, 23rd October – Working Safely at Heights

Working at height is one of the recurring cause of fatalities and serious injury in Ireland. A review of construction-related fatal accidents, as undertaken by the HSA for the years 1989 to 2016, identified falling from height as the single most common cause of fatal accidents

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The findings demonstrated that 40% of all deaths in the construction sector, and 49% in non-construction businesses engaged in construction, were attributable to working at height.

This includes accidents where the victims themselves fell and accidents where the victim was standing on a structure that collapsed, for example, a roof or a ladder.

According to the HSA, working at height is defined as “work in any place, including a place at, above or below ground level, where a person could be injured if they fell from that place. Access and egress to a place of work can also be work at height”.

The key messaging from the HSA to ensure safe working at height is as follows:

  • Carry out risk assessments for work at height activities and make sure that all work is planned, organised and carried out by a competent person;
  • Follow the ‘General Principles of Prevention’ for managing risks from work at height, taking steps to avoid, prevent or reduce risks;
  • Chose appropriate work equipment and prioritise collective measures to prevent falls (such as guard rails and working platforms) before other measures which may only reduce the distance and consequences of a fall (such as nets or airbags) or may only provide fall-arrest through personal protection equipment.a

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