Check the Typical Hazards Of Falls From Height

Check the Typical Hazards Of Falls From Height

Working at height remains one of the biggest causes of occupational fatalities and major injuries. Cases commonly involve over-reaching, over-balancing or the failure of a fragile surface.

Falls from height can also be due to unguarded holes in floors such as hatchways, inspection holes and pits, and from falls into process tanks and machinery.

Typical hazards:

  • Working next to an unprotected edge (e.g. on a flat roof; on the deck of a partly-built scaffold; by the open doors of a lift shaft when the lift is at another floor; by an excavation).
  • Working on a fragile material above a drop (e.g. on a fragile roof; on a skylight).
  • Using access equipment, such as a mobile elevated work platform, or cherry picker.
  • Using ladders, such as a step ladder, extension ladder or fixed vertical access ladder.
  • Standing on objects to reach high levels (e.g. using a chair to reach the top shelf of a storage rack).
  • Falls from height (even a low height) often cause very serious injury and are a common cause of fatal injury. Construction work routinely involves work at height.

Work at height (where unavoidable) should preferably be carried out from the safety of a platform with suitable edge protection in place, but sometimes this may not be possible. In such situations, a ladder may have to be used; however, ladders are best used only as a means of gaining access to and from a workplace.

They should only be used at a workplace for light work of short duration and only after careful hazard identification, risk analysis and planning.

If a fall from height does occur, the consequences will depend on many factors such as the distance fallen, the nature of the surface landed on, how the person lands and the age and health of the individual.

The severity of the injury is increased for example, when the fall is into the path of a moving vehicle (or machinery) or into a tank which contains a hazardous substance.

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