Falls from height cause most workplace deaths, and many occupational injuries. Here are some work at height, scaffold and ladder safety checkpoints.
The UK Access Industry Forum (AIF) has produced a free pocket card giving essential guidance on how to avoid, prevent and minimise the risk of a fall.
The quick and easy reference is ideal for a toolbox or pocket. It highlights the need for any work at height to be planned, supervised, and carried out by competent people as required by the Construction Regulations Amendment 2014.
The work team must undertake a risk assessment, and should give priority to preventative, instead of personal protection measures.
• PocketCards can be ordered for free from firstname.lastname@example.org
Pulpit and podium safety ruled by PAS 250 standard
Minimum safety and performance criteria for low level work platforms, commonly referred to as pulpits and podiums, are determined by the UK Publicly Available Specification (PAS) 250, expected to become a full British Standard (BS) by 2016.
The standard was developed by PASMA, the British Standards Institution (BSI), the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), Hire Association Europe (HAE), and the UK Contractors Group (UKCG).
Specifiers, buyers and users can now purchase pulpits and podiums made by PASMA manufacturing members according to PAS 250.
PASMA technical director Don Aers said, “Designs for this type of equipment had previously been developed in the absence of any formal standard. Without specific design criteria it was clear that some products were inherently unsafe and open to misuse and abuse.
“Specifiers should not think that because podiums and pulpits are fitted with anti-surf devices, that it is ‘all done‘. There are many other safety issues that need to be addressed to comply with PAS 250, chief amongst which is resistance to overturning.
“PAS 250 addresses these issues in a pragmatic, practical way and users should be aware of the risks they run by specifying non-compliant equipment. It really is the first thing they should check.”
PAS 250 covers, among other things, strength and stability requirements and material specifications, together with design requirements for the working platform, side protection (guardrails), access, mobility, labels and user guides.
• A road show this year demonstrated the safety benefits and advantages of PAS 250 pulpits and podiums. Download PAS 250 leaflets and free posters at www.pasma.co.uk.
Scaffold and mobile access tower test
Mobile access tower industry body PASMA challenged employers to take the Tower Test to find out how much they really know about the most common mistakes made when working at height on scaffold towers.
The test was released ahead of Tower Week, to raise awareness of scaffold tower safety in November. It shows pictures of towers and asks what – if anything – is wrong with them.
PASMA MD Peter Bennett, said: “The two things people need to keep in mind when they use towers are, Is this a safe tower? And am I using it safely?’ Some of our examples show towers which should be perfectly safe, but were put up shoddily.
“People using a tower must be competent to do so, and our test will remind them of what competence means. Anyone unsure about the questions in the test should think about getting PASMA trained before going up a tower again, or they could be injured or worse.”
• Take the tower safety skills test online at towerweek.pasma.org.uk
Access tower standard
Height access towers should be certified to the European standard BS EN1004, instead of cheap and potentially dangerous alternatives. Your life or the lives of others may depend on using the right tower.
Unsafe tower equipment was brought into sharp focus after several falls from these towers resulted in a number of deaths and serious injuries in the UK.
The UK HSE had opened an investigation into dangerous work at height equipment on sale.
Peter Bennett, PASMA MD, said: “Dangerous work at height is far more common than it has to be. Using safe equipment can prevent many of the issues that repeatedly come up, such as not fitting proper platforms and guardrails.
“Simply using an EN1004 tower can make all the difference when it comes to a site’s safety… Is there a killer on your shop floor?”
* PASMA at pasma.co.uk has set up a Scaffold Towers section and ladder safety ssection, to outline safe and unsafe work at height practice, including a free Tower Safety Pack.
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