Whether you are onsite or offsite, working at height requires a suitable MEWP Risk Assessment to avoid potential dangers.
In the construction industry, work at height is the main cause of fatal and serious injury in the construction industry. Worryingly, most accidents occur on smaller projects. Using powered access platforms does make carrying out jobs at height safer and faster but there are still potential risks and it is important to make sure all staff are aware of any precautions to take.
Health and Safety Executive (HSE) statistics show more than 60% of deaths resulting from work at height involve falls from ladders, scaffolds, working platforms and roof edges; or falling through fragile roofs. Although this has been a downward trend for the past 10 years, the financial cost has been significant along with the human cost to families and friends.
To continue the downward trend of work at height accidents, the law requires employers and self-employed contractors to carry out an adequate MEWP risk assessment of the potential risks on each job so they can do everything ‘reasonably practicable’ to protect people from harm.
Carrying out a MEWP Risk Assessment does not need to be overly complicated but it does need to be an important part of planning and completing a job. Both the supervisors and the staff should be aware of the potential dangers so they can actively avoid them.
The HSE website provides full and detailed advice on planning and completing a risk assessment for a wide range of jobs but here are the five main points to consider:
• Identify the Hazards – Walk round the site and make observations. Some of these may be obvious but it is worth getting a second opinion in case there is something you haven’t noticed.
• Decide who might be harmed and how – It may be a job onsite or there may be safety concerns for the general public. Make sure staff are adequately trained to complete the work and briefed on the requirements of the job.
• Evaluate the risks and decide on precautions – Avoid working at height where it is reasonably practicable to do so, for example can you get equipment or materials prepped at ground level?
• Record your findings and implement them – Check the maintenance of the powered access platform and other equipment and make sure that workers know how to operate it safely and effectively. Take extra steps to prevent any person falling a distance that could cause personal injury and use equipment to minimise the distance and consequences of a fall if necessary, such as safety nets.
• Review your assessment and update if necessary – circumstances change all the time so your assessment of the risks will too.
Powered access platforms make working at height safer and quicker but they do not remove all the potential risks such as dangerous structures, bad weather or accidents. A risk assessment will ensure that potential problems are managed and can be prevented, so each job is completed without an incident or injury. Visit the HSE website for more information.