Safety not only comes from regulations and fall protection, but also from someone’s own behavior while working at height. Our behavior is often what causes unsafe situations. But our rash or thoughtless actions can have disastrous consequences while working at height. Fortunately our actions are completely within our control.
There will always be situations in which we have to work at heights and the risk of a potential fall becomes a possibility. This is why we have compiled a list of 5 safety tips for workers who will be working at height. These tips focus on one’s own behavior and habits. Please take note that it is important to always use proper (personal) fall protection while working at height.
1. Never step or walk backward when on a roof
It may sound like an open door, but unfortunately we still see people doing this. Nine out of ten times it ends well. But that one time something doesn’t go right, it could lead to severe injuries or even death. If you’ve been concentrating on your work, chances are the roof edge or a skylight may be closer than you think. Therefore we urgently advice you to never step or walk backward on a roof. Keep your eyes focused on where you want to go. This way you’ll spot obstacles and dangerous situations before it is too late.
2. Do not let yourself get distracted
These days we do everything on our phones. We even receive our work details digitally. People are engrossed in their phones. This can already lead to dangerous situations while firmly planted on the ground, let alone while working at height. The top of a roof is no place for distractions, before you know it you may trip over something, fall into a poorly covered hole or even over the edge. So prevent getting distracted and focus on where you are, while on top of a roof.
3. Always check roof stability
Test your footing before placing your full weight. Roofs age too, or get damaged. You cannot see what is happening beneath the roofing membrane. So always proceed with caution. At the first signs of instability, stop and contact the building’s owner.
4. Take your time while on a ladder
You can never be 100 percent certain of the condition a ladder is in when you first step on it. So take it slow and test the ladder to make sure it’s secure. Not to mention; take it slow while on the ladder. Ladders lie at the source of many workplace accidents. Take your time and ensure you have good footing and grip while climbing or descending. Those in a hurry may make a misstep with potentially disastrous consequences.
Never be in a hurry while working at heights. Approaching a ladder or roof edge quickly could end in an emergency if you lose your balance or miscalculate. If you fall because you were rushing, your life and schedule will be seriously impacted. Even if you are wearing Personal Protection Equipment, a fall will still make a serious impact. Don’t risk it, be careful.
5. Don’t climb over obstacles
When working at height, obstacles may get in the way of work. Whether it’s a parapet, a pile of construction materials, a skylight or something else, don’t climb over it if you don’t know what’s on the other side. Try to find a safe way across, careless climbing over obstacles is a hazard.
Stop work or continue?
Besides these 5 tips, which will make you more aware of your behavior when working at heights, another great tool to use before entering a roof is a STOP and Go card. While inspecting this card before working will help you take all the adequate actions before entering a roof. If you cannot answer all questions with a “Yes”, you need to stop working and take the appropriate measures.