Insight – Issue fortyseven

The highest of standards when it comes to keeping clients compliant and customers safe

 
Working at height remains one of the biggest causes of workplace fatalities and major injuries. Falling incidents can occur where people work on ladders, scaffolding, roofs or gangways. Even a fall from a low height can present the risk of severe injuries.

It’s a danger which shouldn’t be underestimated, even to the most experienced of industry professionals. Each case of working from any kind of height should be taken as seriously as the last.

The philosophy of PTSG is that accident situations do exist and constitute a real or potential loss in terms of human suffering and financial loss to the individual, his or her family and the company. We have a legal and moral duty and want our staff to arrive safely and leave safely from work. We hope that you find this insight helpful.

It’s about more than just adhering to regulations

Addressing health and safety issues at work might be seen by some companies as a run of the mill exercise to stay compliant with regulations, but can you really put a price on risking a colleague’s life?

Health and safety is an important factor for companies in safeguarding not only their employees, but the financial health and success of their business. A healthy, safe workforce helps to reduce:

  • Employee absence
  • Staff turnover rates
  • Accidents and the potential subsequent legal action

It can also increase an organisation’s corporate reputation among its investors, customers and community and lead to an increase in productivity at work due to a healthier, happier and more motivated team.

Assessing the risk of working at height

The regulations apply to all work at height where there is a risk of a fall liable to cause personal injury. All working at height conducted on a site must be included in your health and safety risk assessment, properly planned and organised.

Even if the right equipment is being used, improper use or lack of maintenance can increase the risk of falls and personal injuries. Just one example is ladders, which are useful for low-risk and short-term work, but they shouldn’t be used if the work requires a tower scaffold.

Something else which must be considered when working at height is the risk of falling objects, which could pose a risk to not just to employees, but passers-by.

Legal responsibilities

As employers, we have a legal responsibility to ensure:

  • all work at height is properly planned and organised
  • those working at height are well trained and competent
  • the risks from work at height are assessed and appropriate work equipment is selected and used
  • the risks from working on fragile surfaces are properly controlled
  • equipment for work at height is properly maintained and inspected

Taking the right steps when using ladders

You shouldn’t underestimate the dangers of using ladders. Workers may use them on a daily basis, but that doesn’t make the dangers and consequences of falling any less serious. A safety inspection of the ladder should be conducted before using it for work.

Ladders should be avoided if:

  • the stiles are bent or there is any sign of any being split
  • any sign of the feet being worn or damaged, as it could lead to the ladders slipping
  • the rungs are bent or loose, as it may become unstable

A firm work platform

Platforms make it safer to work at height and it is acceptable to make use of any existing structure, such as a flat roof. If there isn’t such a structure suitable, a safe and stable platform is still required.

Among the various types of platforms available are:

  • Scaffolding
  • Mobile and suspended equipment
  • Mobile elevating work platforms (MEWPs)

Platforms must be made stable and secure. It’s also important to set up barriers like guard rails, walls or even toe boards to prevent people falling.

Their use depends on the working duration and conditions, number of staff using the platform and the risk of setting up such a platform.

Conclusion

PTSG has, from day one, taken an uncompromising approach to health and safety. It is our aim not to simply meet industry standards but to drive them up and we won’t be deterred from our mission to eradicate all workplace accidents.

PTSG’s approach has attracted many industry awards and accreditations. In February 2019, the company received an International Safety Award with Distinction. This was in recognition of the Group’s commitment to health, safety and wellbeing during 2018. The Group’s application scored 49 out of 58, placing it into the highest category of ‘Distinction’. This was PTSG’s eighth successive International Safety Award.

The Group holds 133 individual accreditations, a result of the multi-disciplinary services it delivers, each of which has its own particular criteria regarding health, safety and the environment. Nine of the accreditations are from SSIP forum members, plus the Quality ISO 9001, Environment ISO 14001 and H&S BS OHSAS 18001 ISO certificates.

In 2018, PTSG achieved its third Gold Medal for receiving eight consecutive Golds in the RoSPA Health and Safety Awards, the longest-running industry awards scheme in the UK.

For more information about PTSG, please visit: www.ptsg.co.uk

Author biography

Terry Wilcock is Group Director of Health and Safety at Premier Technical Services Group Limited (PTSG)