The ability to Recognise damage that can impact the suitability of a Work at Height system is imperative. These factors should be assessed as part of a compliance test. However, when instilling a positive health and safety culture, best practice suggests that any operative can identify suspected damage.
The characteristics of damage per system are identified below. Many are common across several systems, however, some are specific to an element of a solution.
- Common damage characteristics.
- Loose or missing fixtures, components, fixing bolts or fittings, corrosion, cracks or rust and vandalism.
- Access Ladders.
- Ladder tracks not running freely, snapped ladder ties, bent or dented ladders.
- Guardrail Systems.
- Movement from the original fixing positions, damage to critical components such as the counterbalance weights.
- Eyebolts and Abseil Points.
- Structural damage where the point is fixed, missing tags.
- Mobile Man Anchor.
- Dents or alteration, pulling on the shock absorber, worn rubber boots.
- Safety Line.
- Incorrect cable tension, fractured cable, damage to the fixing surfaces, damage to the energy absorbers, correct number of swages present, does the system still enable free movement when travelling?
- Safe Access Walkway.
- Excessive weathering, build-up of dirt and debris.
Compliance Testing Reduces the Risk of Damage to Work at Height Systems
As well as inspecting for damage, you must ensure that in date compliance tags are visible before using the system. These tags identify that the Work at Height system has undergone and passed compliance testing within a specified time range. The system is therefore unlikely to be damaged significantly. The tag is small visual aid placed on the system specifying the date of last inspection, when the next inspection is due and the operative who completed the work.
We offer these surveys to ensure that Work at Height systems remain compliant with regulations. This preventative visual inspection is the perfect opportunity to identify damage before it affects the usability of the system. While we recommend system testing to be performed every 6-12 months as part of a planned maintenance contract, surveys can be arranged with our specialist team as a one off.
How Technology Can be Used to Assess Damage to Work at Height Systems
Its true that the industry is starting to embrace the latest technological advancements when Working at Height, with drone surveys becoming increasingly popular. Drone surveys are an alternative method for identifying damage to a Work at Height system.
In the past, when damage to a system was suspected, 2 options existed:
- Allow operatives to use the system in order to inspect it and risk an accident.
- Alternatively, invest in a temporary solution such as a cherry picker to access. Not only was this expensive, it was not always practical depending on the location.
Drones enable surveying of suspected damage to be completed quickly with minimal disruption, allowing the operatives feet to stay firmly on the ground. Consider the hierarchy of control measure when working at height – if working at height can be avoided, it should be.
Planned Fabric Maintenance Can Help to Mitigate Damage
Build up of dirt and debris, particularly on the roof of the structure, can cause significant issues. Unfortunately, it often cannot be avoided, especially at this time of the year, where this issue can obscure signs of damage from the operative or assessor. In extreme cases of dirt and debris build-up, it can contribute to the Work at Height system becoming damaged.
To ensure that this does not happen, we offer high level fabric maintenance services performed by specialists in the industry. Our portfolio of services includes commercial gutter cleaning and rope access services. These services are offered as a one off or planned maintenance contract. We will ensure that your Work at Height system is free of debris and dirt so that it maintains its optimum condition.
It is crucial to ensure that your Work at Height system remains compliant and well maintained. Observing damage, or factors that contribute to damage, and acting quickly to remedy can make all the difference. It not only protects your investment, but most importantly enables your operatives to Work at Height safely.
If you would like to discuss a tailored solution for your organisation, contact a member of the team today – we’ll be happy to help.