Working at heights is one of the most dangerous tasks in the construction industry. Adequate safety measures, including the use of appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), are vital.
This is why the prevention of occupational hazards when working at heights must be carried out meticulously. There are numerous risks to be taken into account, ranging from falls to blows. In addition, in order to ensure maximum safety, the right personal protective equipment (PPE) must be in place.
WHAT IS PPE?
PPE, or Personal Protective Equipment, is designed to provide workers with protection against specific risks or hazards that could cause injury or illness. PPE for work at height must be lightweight, comfortable to wear and provide adequate protection without interfering with the worker’s movements.
THE RISKS OF WORKING AT HEIGHT
Work at height involves a number of significant risks for employees, which can have serious consequences. For example, a fall could be enough to break several bones or cause death. Of all the hazards, the following are the most prominent:
- Shocks. This is a risk that has multiple origins. It is possible for an object to fall on the operator or for a material being worked with to fall on him. Depending on the part hit and the force, there will be injuries of varying severity, which requires protection from the head to the extremities.
- Lack of safety elements. This is a risk that can cause falls. It consists of the use of scaffolding in poor condition or unstable, poorly maintained ladders or platforms without handrails. If such circumstances arise, the work being carried out must be stopped immediately.
- Adverse weather conditions. Strong wind or rain increase the risk of an accident at work. When they are too strong, it is not possible to continue working. If you do so, the chances of a fall due to a slip increase considerably.
PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT FOR WORK AT HEIGHT
The risks of working at heights must be counteracted by appropriate protective equipment. Its function is to provide effective defence against the most relevant hazards. When selecting PPE, the following shall be taken into account:
- Harness. This is one of the most important elements for fall protection. It is fastened by straps to the body and keeps it attached to a secure anchorage point. It is an essential component of any PPE for working at height. The harness must be the right size, comfortable to wear and fit properly.
- Lanyards. A lanyard is a flexible rope used to connect the harness to the anchor point. It should be long enough to allow the worker to move freely, but short enough to prevent the worker from falling.
- Helmet. Its function is to protect the head from the impacts it may suffer. It is important that it fits the employee’s head, is comfortable and complies with the safety standards required for each type of work.
- Eye protection. Eye protection is essential when working at height as debris or particles can enter the eyes. Safety glasses must be worn at all times to prevent eye injury.
- Gloves. Gloves are necessary when working with machinery or sharp objects. They should be made of a durable material that offers protection without compromising dexterity.
- Safety footwear. They should have a toe cap, preferably made of ultra-light material that does not compromise safety. Thus, they will be a defence against crushing or compression. As for the sole, it will be non-slip to prevent slipping. It is an essential element that cannot be missing, since it maintains the stability of the operator, protects his feet and provides a high level of comfort regardless of the place where he works or the time he spends with them.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT EPI FOR WORKING AT HEIGHT
Choosing the right PPE for work at height is crucial to ensure worker safety. When selecting PPE, consider the following:
1. Risks involved
Identify the risks and hazards present in the work area. Understanding the potential risks will allow you to select the appropriate PPE.
Workers must wear PPE for long periods, so comfort is essential. Select PPE that is lightweight, breathable and adjustable.
3. Ease of use
PPE should be easy to put on and take off, but it should also fit securely. Make sure workers can adjust PPE without assistance.
Make sure that the PPE meets the required safety standards and is durable enough to withstand frequent use.
Thanks to an ORP for work at height, maximum occupational safety will be maintained. To achieve good results, the main risks will be identified and ways to avoid them will be planned. Among all of them, protective equipment is a must.