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To minimise risks for employees who work at elevated heights, don't skip THIS crucial step

by , 28 March 2014
As an employer, it's your legal duty to do everything you can to prevent employees from falling off ladders and scaffolding. This is crucial when you consider the fact that falls from working at height are the single biggest cause of deaths and one of the main causes of injury in the workplace. Continue reading to find out about the one thing you must do to minimise risk for employees who work at elevated heights.

Your guide to minimising risk for employees working at elevated heights contains these eight steps

Step #1: Plan and organise elevated work properly
Step #2: Consider the weather
Step #3: Make sure all employees involved in elevated work are competent
Step #4: Ensure a safe working area
Step #5: Provide safety equipment, temporary structures and safety features
Step #6: Carry out inspections
Step #7: Avoid fragile surfaces
Step #8: Guard against falling objects

For the purposes of this article, we'll focus on step number seven: Avoiding fragile surfaces.

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To minimise hazards for employees who work at elevated heights, don't let them work on fragile surfaces

The Health & Safety Advisor says the danger with a fragile surface is that it doesn't safely support the weight of a person or the equipment they're using.

If you want to check if a surface is fragile, check the following things:

  • The composition of the material, for example, ceiling boards;
  • The thickness of the material;
  • The span between supports;
  • The design of the supporting structure;
  • The age of the material; and
  • The type, number and quality of fixings.

Important: You must ensure your employees don't go near or onto any fragile surface unless it's the only possible way for the work to be carried out!

If anyone does work on or near fragile surfaces you must (where possible):

  • Provide suitable platforms, coverings and guard rails to minimise the risk;
  • Minimise the distance and effect of the fall; and
  • Make all workers aware of the dangers by using warning notices.

Working at elevated heights is dangerous, but ensuing that your employees don't work in fragile surfaces will help you minimise the risks.

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