Construction Company Owners – Do you Have a Work at Height Policy?
As a construction company owner, you have obligations towards your employees to ensure that they are able to carry out their work safely, with a minimum of risks. Working in construction often means working at height, one of the most hazardous work activities that can be undertaken, despite stringent legislation designed to reduce the number of incidents and accidents involving falls from height. As the person responsible to health and safety, particularly when working at height is involved, you are required to ensure that all work is planned properly and that those expected to carry out the work are competent to do so.
Work at height is defined as work in any place (this includes at and below ground level) where a worker could fall a distance that is likely to cause personal injury. This means that you need the following:
- A work at height policy
- Risk Assessment
- Method Statements
When developing a Work at Height Policy, remember that work at height covers a huge range of activities, including maintaining plant and machinery on a roof, cleaning gutters, maintaining exterior lighting fixtures, or even putting up a display in a retail store.
You’ll need to consider how employees, contractors, visitors and members of the public may be affected by the work being undertaken. The Policy should establish the procedures for working at height and what controls could be introduced.
All roles and responsibilities within your company should be define clearly – for example, this would include managers who are responsible for ensuring that all contractors are competent to work at height.
The next step is to carry out an audit of all work at height activities to ensure that relevant procedures are covered, including:
- Completing a Risk Assessment relevant to the specific task and review this on a regular basis
- Maintenance of access equipment and regular updates to the maintenance log
- Inspection of equipment ensuring that completed records and reports are kept
- Ladders – is the ladder register up to date, are all ladders individually tagged and are their inspection sheets updated regularly?
- Lanyards and harnesses – is there an up to date register of this equipment, and are individual items easily identifiable? Are inspections sheets up to date, have all users completed the correct training and do you have rescue/emergency procedures in place?
- Are all relevant personnel fully trained in the equipment being used?
- Are all workers who are required to work at height trained to do so and is their training up to date?
As an employer, you bear the ultimate responsibility for ensuring the health and safety in the workplace of all of your employees. Cutting corners on safety can lead to hefty fines that are likely to have a negative effect on your business. Investing in health and safety training and ensuring that you meet your obligations towards your workforce will increase productivity and put your construction company on the path to future success.