10 Safety Practices for Working at Heights in Construction

Safe construction is crucial. While some workplace safety standards are upheld in the regulatory sense, there are other standards that every construction firm working at heights should have lined up. When you’re operating at heights, the level of risk increases.

The best commercial construction companies like Baycrest will prioritize safety practices for working at heights. These guidelines help to protect your staff and safeguard your business. There are certain tips to keep in mind when you’re putting together a framework for your crew. Check out these ten safety practices for working at heights in construction:

1. Safety training for working at heights

Ensure the worker is properly trained for working at heights on a given platform. Someone experienced in working on a ladder might not be comfortable on a scaffold or a lift. They might not even know there is a fear there until they’re up on the platform. Ensure your workers are properly trained in safety for each of the following working at heights scenarios – scaffold, lift, and ladder.

2. Use the railing

A high-quality railing is an easy form of protection, ensuring compliance with regulations and maintaining workers within a designated space. Workers should always stay within the rail, of course. Use it when needed. Many types of railing can be used, from the non-penetrating railing to metal roof railing. Whichever you use, ensure it is properly secured as well.

3. Use lifts properly

If workers are operating a lift, a lot can go wrong if they are not properly trained or aware of fall protection training for lifts. For example, if you’re in a boom lift at any height, you should be securely tied to a strong anchor point and wear PPE appropriate for the height you are working at.

4. Work a ladder properly

Like with lifts, ladders have their safety practices in construction. Have 3 feet of extension past the level you are climbing. Have a 4:1 ratio of rising and running. For every four feet of ladder, the base should be one foot away from the structure. Lastly, always two legs and one hand or two hands and one leg. No carrying things up and down the ladder. You have to keep this three-point rule going when you’re on a ladder.

5. Wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Wear the correct PPE for working at heights. A full-body harness is extremely valuable, but evidently, there are many different types. Which harness you choose will be based on what sort of work you’re doing. Fireproof material, for example, can be valuable for someone like a welder but entirely unnecessary for a roofer. All in all, you want something that fits well, is secure, and that’s guaranteed to protect the person wearing it.

6. Choosing the right lanyard for working at heights

In addition to a full-body harness, having the right lanyard is also important. A taller height will likely require a retractable lanyard instead of a standard lanyard. That said, each work environment is a little different. Use your expertise to judge the most appropriate choice in the lanyard according to the task being performed.

7. Have a strong anchor point

If your anchor point won’t hold the load, there’s no point in having it. An acceptable anchor point should be something that’s been designed and approved by an engineer, with a calculated expected load of 5,000 pounds or more.

A PVC pipe is not a strong anchor point. If possible, structural steel with a beam clamp is an example. Many compliant, excellent anchor points make sense to choose from.

8. Inspect your safety PPE routinely

All PPE, including harnesses and lanyards, should be inspected yearly. Whenever a user chooses a harness, they should also inspect their PPE before use. The user should understand what they’re looking for, and if there is an issue, another harness should be selected. Pre-use checks do not take time and can be thorough enough to protect someone from a potential fatality or chronic injury from a fall.

9. Take working at heights seriously

Even with the utmost safety, there is always a risk that workers could fall and injure themselves. There needs to be a level of seriousness and tact applied when working at heights. That means no messing around and no lack of attention.

Even if you and your workers have done this a hundred times, complacency can lead to a serious fall. All workers should be attentive and ready to react in an emergency. All it takes is one misstep for there to be an accident.

10. Don’t take shortcuts when working at heights

If something appears unsafe or you don’t have enough trained workers to do the job at the desired height, don’t move forward. It’s not worth compromising safety and taking shortcuts. Construction falls are the top cause of fatalities on worksites every year. Sometimes, it’s an error. Sometimes, it’s confusing when a person tries to protect themselves at height without proper training or not having the right resources and having to make compromises.