When working at heights, whether it’s from a ladder or scaffolding, safety should be your top priority. You should always use fall protection equipment as well as take precautions to avoid falls in the first place. Here are 9 tips for staying safe while working at heights:
1. Always use a safety harness.
Safety harnesses are designed to keep you safe and secure while you work at heights, so it’s important that you use one whenever possible. If you don’t have access to one or can’t find one in your toolkit, try tying yourself off with rope or cable instead. If this isn’t feasible either (if there’s no rope or cable available), consider asking someone else nearby if they have an extra safety harness they could lend you for the job; many people will be happy to help out! If none of these options work out for some reason–perhaps because everyone around has already used up all their spare harnesses–you may need another option: wait until the job is done before climbing down again yourself!
2. Inspect your fall protection equipment regularly for damage and wear.
Check for frayed ropes, worn clips and other signs of wear. If you find any of these things, replace the equipment immediately.
Make sure your harness is the right size for you by measuring around your chest with arms relaxed at side (not stretched out) and legs together; then add 2 inches to this measurement for comfort room in the waist belt or 3 inches if using a full body harness with built-in lanyard mounts (this will allow some adjustment). If unsure about what size to get, ask somebody who knows about climbing gear like an REI employee! You can also try on different sizes until one feels comfortable enough before making a purchase decision–it’s better safe than sorry when it comes down this stuff!
3. Be aware of potential hazards in the area where you will be working such as potential tripping hazards on uneven surfaces, holes in floors, slippery surfaces or other conditions that may present danger to workers at heights.
Ensure that ladders are properly secured and stable before using them for access to equipment or work areas. Ladders should never be used where there is a possibility of falling objects (e.g., welding operations) or when it could create an unsafe condition (e.g., walking on planks).
4. Refresher training is important.
It’s important to keep your skills sharp and up to date.
The best way to do this is by attending regular refresher training courses. These can be done in person or online, but they should happen regularly and cover the following topics:
- The basics of working at heights, such as how harnesses work and what they’re designed for
- How to use fall protection equipment safely (including checking it before use)
- Any changes in legislation since your last training course
5. Check your safety harness before using it each time.
Before you begin work, make sure that your safety harness and lanyard are in good condition. Inspect the harness for wear, damage and loose stitching. If any of these things are found on your equipment, do not use it until it has been repaired by a professional or replaced altogether.
6. Wear shoes with soles that stick to the surface you’re standing on.
When working at heights, you should wear shoes with soles that stick to the surface you’re standing on. The best type of footwear for this is something called “cleated” boots, which have small metal studs in them. These studs grip onto any surface and make it much easier for you to walk across slippery or uneven surfaces without falling over.
If you don’t have access to cleated boots, there are other options available:
- Tennis shoes can be useful if you need something more lightweight than regular work boots but still want some traction on your feet when working at heights (e.g., when painting a house). Tennis shoes are designed specifically for playing tennis but they also provide good grip while being light enough not to weigh down your legs too much during long shifts standing up straight all day long.*
7. Stay hydrated and eat snacks before heading up high.
Don’t forget about hydration! Drinking enough fluids can help prevent dehydration and heat exhaustion, which are both serious risks when working at height. If possible, try bringing a bottle of water with you on site so that it’s available when needed (and don’t forget about those snacks!).
8. Have procedures on hand for any emergency that may occur while working at heights (i.e. fire prevention, medical emergencies).
- Have a plan for how to deal with fire, medical problems, etc.
- Have a plan for what to do if someone falls.
- Have a plan for what to do if someone gets stuck.
- Have a plan for what to do if someone is injured or needs help getting down from the work area (elevator use may be limited due to power outages).
9. Have the right tools for the job so you don’t overreach or have to extend yourself further than necessary.
- Use tools that are the right size for the job.
- Make sure your tools are in good working condition and rated for loads you will be placing on them.
- Check to see if your tool is rated for heights you will be working at, as well.
If you follow these tips and enroll in our construction safety courses, you’ll be able to work safely at heights.
Interested in working at heights training? Register here!