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How Does Winter Weather Affect Work at Height and Fall Protection Systems?

Snowflake

Across the UK weather conditions can dramatically change from one day to the next and when Working at Height in Winter months, employees and contractors will be exposed to severe weather conditions including low temperatures, rain, snow and ice. These severe weather conditions can affect both the use and functionality of your Fall Protection Systems, as well as the human body. In this blog post we discuss the precautionary measures you should be aware of…

Work at Height

Working at Height this Winter? It is important to ensure you have a job brief before carrying out any works, a supervisor should then explain all of the potential fall hazards, giving instructions on how to use any Fall Protection Systems in place and the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) required to complete the works. Weather conditions as well as additional risks should also be part of this brief, with Risk Assessment and Method Statements reviewed and signed off, prior to works commencing.

Check your Personal Protective Equipment! Commonly, the PPE used whilst working will be your own, so the chances of safety being impaired due to weather conditions are minimal. However, should your PPE get wet during rain or snow whilst working, it will need to be dried out before future use.

TIP: never use an electronic or gas heater to dry PPE, this can cause damage and weakening of your equipment. Always perform a pre-use check after drying!

When working in low temperatures for a sustained period of time, muscles and nerves can begin to cool, leading to a loss of coordination and strength – neither bode well whilst Working at Height. Take a look at our specialist’s top tips to avoid this:

  1. Clothing

It is imperative to ensure that your clothing matches the type of weather you will be working in – either specialised equipment or multiple layers of regular clothing will be sufficient.

  1. Eating

Start your day with a large healthy breakfast and ensure your meals are sufficient in size throughout your working day, as this will provide your body with energy to produce heat.

  1. Rest and Warmth

Take a break from the cold every now and again by going inside to warm up with a hot drink.

Fall Protection Systems

Fall Protection Systems are continually exposed to the elements on your roof space, so always complete a visual check from the ‘safe zone’, looking out for:

  • Any signs of wear or damage to fixing points
  • Heavy forms of corrosion in any area

Specifically for Safety Line Systems, anchors and integrated energy absorbers should also be checked for activation prior to use.

Once the environment has been deemed as safe, carry out a pre-use check on all PPE and be vigilant for any forms of damage or malfunction on the system that you couldn’t see from the ‘safe zone’.

Fall Protection Systems are designed for the exterior envelope, but to ensure a long life-span for these systems, you will need to ensure that they are maintained regularly as the consistent rain in Winter months can lead to corrosion for vital elements. To protect your employees and contracts, our specialists advise checking systems following any major storms or heavy rain – looking out for:

  • Movement from original fixing positions
  • Damage to critical components
  • Loose or missing components, fixing bolts, screws etc
  • Vandalism
  • Rust and corrosion
  • General wear and tear
  • In date compliance tags

Fixing points will then need to be cleaned with a towel or cloth, to further avoid the risk of corrosion.

Heightsafe’s friendly specialists are available to provide free, no obligation advice on any of your Work at Height queries. Get in touch today to see how we can become Your Specialist Work at Height Partner!

21st November 2018 9:31 am

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