What is Fall Protection?
Within any industry, health and safety is paramount. But within building and construction, where working at height is unavoidable, the risks are inevitably heightened – and protecting workers against significant hazards needs to be addressed accordingly.
Whether a structure is two or twenty storeys high, having robust fall protection mechanisms in place is essential to ensuring everyone is protected when working at height. And while the requirements of every job are different, the priority of any contractor should always be to guarantee a safe environment for workers, with no risk overlooked.
How do I know what fall protection my structure needs?
Having appropriate measures in place to protect against falls when working at height is a legal requirement – the Work At Height Regulations 2005 cover when safeguards should be installed, when rope access can be used and how inspections need to be recorded. All the way through from planning and assessing risks to designing and maintaining safety systems, the legislation rules how fall protection systems should be implemented, managed and looked after.
Every structure is different, so it’s impossible to determine what type of fall protection is needed without a survey being conducted. From the nature of the building and what it’s used for, to the level of access required and other environment-specific risks, there is no universally applicable solution for every work at height need.
So, enlisting a specialist to determine which system is most appropriate, is the crucial first step in ensuring people remain safe when working at height. This survey will help work out the equipment, design and installation needed to ensure the safety of anyone working within the zone that is to be protected.
What different systems are available?
Depending upon the structural and safety requirements of any given location, there are a few different fall protection solutions available:
These can be fixed or free-standing, depending on preference and requirements. Fixed rails are an easy, affordable and effective solution for rooftop edges and as a permanent fixture, they are long-lasting and require practically no maintenance. Free-standing rails provide an alternative that doesn’t require drilling into the structure. With a cantilevered design, these are also tough and simple to install, with the added advantage of causing no damage to the roof.
Horizontal safety lines:
Suitable for almost any roof, walkway or industrial safety environment, horizontal safety lines are a highly effective fall restraint and fall arrest protection system. Plus, there are also solutions available for multiple users, ensuring a working environment that is both safer and more productive.
How do I ensure my systems stay safe?
It’s crucial to understand that the installation of fall protection mechanisms is just one piece of a much larger puzzle – to ensure these remain effective and compliant with health and safety legislation, routine inspections and maintenance must also be carried out. By assessing the integrity of fall protection and fall arrest systems, contractors can recommend the necessary repairs, system re-designs, refurbishments and upgrade works. And training can even be provided for workers who will be using the equipment, to ensure that they are comfortable and confident with the new practices.
Once any required works have been conducted to install or enhance existing fall protection mechanisms, keeping on top of maintenance is important – not only to keep them as safe as possible, but also to reduce the likelihood of having to pay out for costly unexpected repairs. Having a preventative regime in place is therefore a great way of ensuring the ongoing safety and compliance of equipment, along with the peace of mind that workers are properly protected. The frequency of maintenance inspections varies from job to job, but for many structures, annual certifications are sufficient.
Access North Structures provide a comprehensive range of fall protection services, covering design, installation, inspection, certification, testing and maintenance for both temporary and permanent equipment.
Working alongside facilities managers, construction firms and property owners throughout the UK, we ensure the correct mechanisms are in place and properly maintained for safely working at height. So, if you require advice about fall protection, or want to book an inspection with ‘The Height Experts’, get in touch!