Planning Work at Height – Part Two

Planning Work at Height – Part Two

29th June 2017

Last week we took a fairly detailed look at planning work at height and one of the issues was the importance of carrying out a risk assessment before beginning any work.  Today we’re going to take a closer look at risk assessments.  While the auditing procedure is an important aspect of work at height planning, no matter how carefully we plan, things can change on site in an instant so a dynamic risk assessment is a vital part of the procedure and will help to ensure that your original risk assessment is still accurate and up to date.

You’re probably aware that a risk assessment involves identifying risks so that you know what control measures need to be implemented in order to avoid hazards which result in harm or damage.   A dynamic risk assessment is similar to this but is a continuous process, rather than a final document.  A dynamic risk assessment is appropriate to use in a rapidly changing environment such as a building site and should be used in addition to the main risk assessment – it is not a replacement for a regular risk assessment which should still be carried out.

A dynamic risk assessment is the final stage of the risk assessment process which enables work to be carried out safely – it should be carried out by the person undertaking the work so it’s vital that this person is competent and has had the requisite training in properly assessing risks. 

All workers should be constantly aware of their own safety and that of their colleagues and others who may be affected by ongoing work.  They should be able to take immediate action if necessary in the interest of safety and here are some simple steps to facilitate this:

1.      Evaluate the situation/task to identify who may be at risk

2.      Select a system of work and ensure that it is safe – look at the risk versus benefit and, if appropriate proceed with the work

3.      If the system of work is not safe, introduce additional controls or select another system of work if possible

4.      Reassess systems of work and introduce further controls if required.

It’s best to keep the dynamic risk assessment simple so that anybody needing to refer to it can understand what they are looking at.  The areas that will need to cover should include:

·         The working environment – wet or windy weather leads to an increased risk of falling so the worker needs to decide whether to continue with the work

·         Type of access – is the selected means of access still possible and appropriate?

·         Asbestos and hazardous substances – if the worker encounters a hazardous substance or suspects asbestos, then he should stop work immediately and seek competent assistance

·         Fire escape – if working on a roof, can the person escape to a safe area in the event of a fire?

·         Violence and stress – if there is a risk of violence or if the work will place undue stress on the worker, the work should not continue (this is especially important for lone workers)

·         Animals, birds and vermin – nesting birds or vermin represent an additional hazard for those working on a roof so the work should be rescheduled for when the nests are empty.  Vermin such as rats or mice should be eliminated before work begins.