Preventing a fall from height: A JMAC Safety Systems Guide

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Preventing falls when working at height: best practices and strategies for safety

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Learn how to prevent falls when working at height with our comprehensive guide, expert tips on choosing fall protection equipment and creating a culture of safety

Falls from heights are a significant hazard which can result in severe injuries or even fatalities. To prevent them, it’s crucial to identify their causes, take preventative measures and implement a safety culture.

Understanding the risks of working at heights

Falls from heights can be caused by a variety of factors including lack of safety equipment, improper use of safety equipment, environmental hazards such as wet or slippery surfaces, uneven terrain and loose debris, inadequate safety equipment training and human error. By understanding these common causes, steps can be take to create a safer working environment.

Learn more about how you can keep your workers safe when working at heights with JMAC’s Macdeck.

Injuries from falls from heights

Common injuries sustained from falls from heights include head and spinal cord injuries, fractures and broken bones, internal and soft tissue injuries and psychological trauma. According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), falls from height remain one of the leading causes of fatal and non-fatal workplace accidents in the UK. In the period 2020/21, falls from height accounted for 27% of fatal injuries to workers, with a total of 35 fatalities.

In the same period, there were 7,780 non-fatal injuries to workers due to falls from height, which accounted for 23% of all reported non-fatal injuries to workers. The construction industry has the highest rate of fatal falls from height, accounting for 29% of all fatal injuries to workers in the industry. Ladders are the most common equipment involved in falls from height, with around 40% of non-fatal injuries related to their use. In the period 2019/20, the HSE issued 330 enforcement notices related to falls from height, indicating non-compliance with safety regulations.

These statistics highlight the importance of prioritising workplace safety and implementing appropriate safety measures. Read more about the law relating to working at height.  

Best practices for fall prevention

Conducting a thorough Risk Assessment is crucial for preventing falls from height in the workplace.

A Risk Assessment can identify fall hazards such as unprotected edges, inadequate guardrails or unstable working surfaces, evaluate fall protection systems and identify any areas which require improvement. Based on its results, Risk Assessment can also help with the implementation of engineering controls.

Some examples of engineering controls for fall prevention include installing guardrails, creating stable work platforms and designing equipment with anti-slip features. Additionally, Risk Assessment can be used to conduct a job hazard analysis which involves identifying the hazards associated with specific job tasks and developing appropriate safety measures to prevent falls.

Employers must also provide appropriate training and supervision to ensure that workers understand how to use and maintain engineering controls correctly. Regular inspections and maintenance of these controls are crucial to ensure that they remain effective.

By implementing engineering controls, employers can create a safer working environment for their employees and prevent falls from height. It’s an investment into the safety and well-being of employees, which can have positive impacts on productivity, morale, and the reputation of the company.

Fall Protection Plans

Creating a Fall Protection Plan is an essential step for preventing falls from height in the workplace and outlines the necessary steps, procedures and controls to be implemented to protect workers, ensure compliance with regulations and demonstrates a commitment to workplace safety.

A Fall Protection Plan is customised to the workplace and addresses the unique hazards and needs of that workplace. It’s not a one-time event but a continuous process. The Plan should be reviewed and updated regularly to ensure that it remains effective and relevant to the workplace.

Training and education

Being properly trained and educated on fall protection leads to a workforce with an increased awareness of fall hazards, ensures proper use of fall protection equipment, improves safety culture, ensures compliance with regulations and reduces the risk of injuries.

Workers who receive training and education on fall protection are more aware of the potential hazards associated with working at height and are more likely to prioritise safety and are less likely to be injured in the event of a fall. This reduction in injuries can lead to a decrease in lost work time and compensation claims.

Choosing the right fall protection equipment

Choosing the right fall protection equipment is crucial for ensuring the safety of workers who are at risk of falling from height. It’s important to consider factors such as the nature of the work being performed, the working environment and the type of fall protection system needed. Key points to bear in mind are:

Determining the type of fall protection system needed: There are several types of fall protection systems available, including fall arrest systems, restraint systems and positioning systems. The type of system needed depends on the nature of the work being performed and the level of risk associated with the task. For example, if workers are performing work on a sloped roof, a fall arrest system may be needed to prevent falls, while a restraint system may be appropriate for workers performing work near an open edge.

Choosing equipment which meets safety standards: Fall protection equipment should meet safety standards set by regulatory bodies. This ensures that the equipment is tested and certified to meet safety requirements, and is reliable and durable. For example, JMAC Products offer a range of fall protection equipment that meets and exceeds UK safety standards.

The working environment: The working environment should be taken into consideration when selecting fall protection equipment. For example, if workers are performing work in an environment with corrosive materials, equipment made of materials resistant to corrosion should be used. Similarly, if workers are performing work in an environment with extreme temperatures, equipment that can withstand those temperatures should be selected.

Ensuring the equipment is appropriate for the task: Fall protection equipment should be appropriate for the task being performed. JMAC Products offer a range of fall protection equipment that meets safety standards and can be tailored to specific needs.

Creating a culture of safety at height

The role of management is crucial in promoting safety in the workplace. Management plays an important role in developing a strong safety culture by setting the tone for workplace safety programs and practices. Encouraging worker participation in safety programs is an effective way to promote a culture of safety. Workers should be encouraged to participate in safety committees, hazard assessments and safety training. Providing incentives for safe work practices is also an effective way to promote safety in the workplace.

Workers should be rewarded for safe work practices and encouraged to report safety concerns. Developing a system for reporting and investigating incidents is essential for identifying and addressing safety hazards.

Workers should be encouraged to report incidents and near-misses to management, and management should conduct thorough investigations to identify the root cause of the incident and develop corrective actions. By actively promoting safety culture, encouraging worker participation, providing safety incentives, and developing a robust system for reporting and investigating incidents, management can create a safer workplace and reduce the risk of accidents and injuries.



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