Acrophobia ranks third on the list of things people fear the most, so why is it often so hard to get people to comply with the regulation that they must tie off while wearing an approved fall arrest harness? Well for starters, no such regulation exists. Now, before you get all self-righteous and belligerent, let me explain.
While it is true that there are in fact, many regulations that require employers to protect workers from falls from height, none (at least that I can find or know of) specifically require that a harness be worn. It makes no sense to me that safety professionals who are well-versed in the hierarchy of controls ignore them when they are looking at fall protection. The typical first response is to insist on Personal Protective Equipment – the lowest control in the hierarchy of controls and by far the least effective.
In the period 2019 to 2020, 111 people lost their lives in the workplace in the UK, 29 of these being killed in a fall from height. (https://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/fatals.htmI) In 2018/2019 these numbers were 147 and 40, respectively. The year before was 144 and 35. This amounts to 26%, 27% and 24% of all fatalities in the workplace. (Bear in mind the figures for 2019/2020 do not highlight the issues around Covid-19 and the sustained period of economic lockdown in the UK, so this number could well have been higher under normal circumstances).
So why have I started this article with some statistics? Well, as you can see, the numbers have remained relatively the same during those years. Why is this the case? That is the topic of today’s article. Why do working at height accidents keep happening over and over again? Why do we keep losing our colleagues, friends and family members to the same things, year after year after year?
One of the first conversations I had when I started writing for COS was with Stephanie Benay, chairperson of the Women in Occupational Health and Safety Society (WOHSS) and one of the cover stars of our May/June issue. When I asked her about issues facing women in the OHS sector today, she mentioned PPE. At the time, she said that “having PPE that fits you properly and is comfortable is critical to being able to do your job.”
The issue struck me at the time as it is one that — I am ashamed to admit — I had never really thought about. And, indeed, this topic has arisen more and more in the last few months whenever speaking with female OHS professionals. The main issue is the fit of protective clothing, which for many still doesn’t take into account the fact that workers come in all shapes and sizes. This lack of proper consideration seems to strongly affect female workers.
Industrial worksites — like factories, power plants and warehouses — are often dangerous environments for workers. Large equipment and heavy objects, among other threats, pose severe safety risks.
While managers can take various steps to improve warehouse safety, accidents still happen — especially when supervisors overlook specific elements that can contribute to an unsafe working environment.
Electrical maintenance is an ideal way to reduce accidents and prevent injuries from electrocution and incidents like electrical fires.
Balancing, standing, running, walking, jumping, kicking. All of these would be very difficult without two key parts of our body… our feet.
In the workplace they can often be overlooked, as most of our workplace tasks are accomplished with our hands. So a large proportion of workplace injuries happen to that part of our body. However, ignoring the importance of our feet can lead to incidents which are just as serious as with the hands, causing crippling injuries, and even permanent life-changing disabilities. Whilst we can employ plenty of control measures, having the right workplace footwear can play a significant part in preventing these incidents from happening, or at least limiting their severity.
A lot of you reading this article today will immediately think of issuing the workforce with the good old steel toe-cap boots. Go down the road to our Safety Equipment supplier, pickup several pairs of boots, job done. Well, like any safety issue, the solutions are not a
Working at height has been a leading cause of serious and fatal accidents for many years. It is essentially impossible to eliminate the need to work at height, so focus and emphasis needs to be placed on managing this risk.
Let’s clear up some common misconceptions first.
Working at height does not mean you have to be above the ground. The definition of what constitutes working at height was changed to include scenarios where someone is working at ground level but next to an excavation or a drop in level. So you can fall from the ground to a lower level, this is also considered to be working at height.
The notion that working at less than 1.8 meters (or 6 feet) is safe and does not require any special precautions is not correct. This was a historical detail that used to be enshrined in some former legislation. It was based on the idea that if a person fell less than 6 feet then the consequences were less likely to be fatal or serious. So even if statistically t
OSHA requires that in any workplace where respirators are necessary to protect the health of the employee or whenever respirators are required by the employer, a written respiratory protection program must be established and implemented.
The program includes procedures specific to each worksite and is intended to prevent employees from inhaling harmful contaminants. Specifically, each employer must provide respirators to protect workers from workplace hazards to prevent inhalation of hazardous materials that cannot be controlled by other measures (i.e., engineering or administrative controls).
Respirators must also be provided to ensure that employees do not breathe air that contains dangerously low levels of oxygen or that is otherwise immediately dangerous to life or health (IDLH).
Keep in mind that these respiratory hazards are something that employees could