Safety at Heights

What goes up must come down. There aren’t many things everyone can agree on, but that basic rule of physics seems to be pretty common ground. For anyone working at heights, it’s not a matter of if but how you come down: safely and carefully with all your body parts intact, or with a crash and bang that leaves you in a wheelchair - or a coffin.

Falls have been a major cause of injury and death in the construction industry. In recent years initiatives by industry and by OSH have seen that number reduce, but the cost of falls from heights is still far, far to great.

In the 12 months from July 2002 to June 2003, five workers fell to their deaths on New Zealand construction sites. In the construction industry, falls from ladders alone are estimated to cost the country $17 million a year.

What You Can Do To Work Safely At Heights

Macho don’t mean mucho. A macho attitude stops lots of guys from working safely. They think they look like a wuss if they take steps to keep themselves safe. Plus, many find that workmates take the piss if someone tries to stay safe by tying off their ladder, wearing a harness or checking a scaffold is properly put together. That was the same attitude we saw 30 years ago when someone jumped in the ute and pulled a seatbelt on: now no one thinks twice about it. Attitudes to safety can change, and it’s up to each person to look out for themselves. Even the toughest nut will be wishing he worked safe when he’s hobbling around home on crutches while the business goes down the gurgler.

Open your eyes. Safety on site is not a matter of filling out forms and passing inspections. It’s about using your eyes, your brains and your experience to see accidents before they happen, and do something about it. How often have you found yourself thinking 'hmm someone could easily trip over that and fall' - but you do nothing about it and sure enough it happens. Shiny safety manuals that no one uses are not the answer. To keep your worksite safe, you need to be actively looking for problems and avoiding them, just as a driver scans the road ahead to see where a danger might be coming from.

Use the right gear. Ever seen a woman hammer in a nail with a high-heeled shoe? It’s the kind of thing we love to laugh about. But how many of us do the same - using bodgy equipment that just isn’t right for the job? Some of the scaffolds and work platforms OSH inspectors see in use are just accidents waiting to happen. And we see a lot of home ladders being used on building sites. To do a decent job, use decent gear.

OSH

 
 
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Safety Training Articles

Eye Injuries at Work

Ladder Safety

New Employees Should be Supervised

Work Hazards Kill Millions

Safety at Heights

Workplace Safety – Confined Spaces

Slips, Trips and Falls in Construction

Sub-Contractor Safety

Ground Fault Protection on Construction Sites

Pregnancy & Workplace Safety

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