This is a question that our inspection teams are regularly asked – and in fact it is one of the most important factors in ensuring the safety of staff and contractors working at height on or in your building.
Inspections of fall protection or prevention equipment, such as safety lines, eyebolts, access headers, guardrail, walkways and mobile man anchors is vital. The maximum inspection and or testing period for these fixed assets is usually 12 monthly, although a six monthly interim inspection and or test is normally recommended for fall arrest equipment.
Here we look at some of the reasons why fixed work at height equipment on buildings needs to be inspected.
The number one consideration when talking about work at heights should be safety. The safety of employees and contractors is of paramount importance. For more details on this, refer to the WAHR (Work at Height Regulations) 2005 or the brief guide produced by the Health & Safety Executive. In a nutshell, this tells you what to do to protect your workers from falls from height. There are a number of steps to take to avoid a fall, these include avoiding work at height completely, making sure workers are using the right type of equipment and that distances are minimised, therefore reducing the consequences of a fall.
Duty holders should also ensure workers are using the right type of equipment. Workers are advised to do as much work as possible from the ground and employers have a duty of care to ensure their equipment is suitable, stable and strong enough for the job in hand. It also needs to be checked and maintained regularly, other steps to ensure safety includes not overloading or over-reaching when working at height. Workers are advised not to work on or near fragile surfaces and duty holders should ensure they provide protection from falling objects and that they consider your emergency evacuation and rescue procedures.
As an employer you need to be compliant with Work at Height Regulations. This means ensuring that the equipment your workers are using is inspected at the right intervals. If you have a large building with a number of different pieces of fall protection equipment or a number of different sites within your portfolio, then it is easy to lose track of when an inspection should be carried out.
With our service, we take care of the whole process to ensure that your fall protection equipment does not go ‘out of date’ and inspections are carried out at the required frequencies. This gives our customers complete peace of mind that their buildings are compliant, reducing risks to the business and to workers.
Wear and Tear
The frequency of inspection does also depend on the frequency of use and the environment in which the equipment is installed. For example, if an eyebolt was used in an area where the external environment is highly corrosive, such as on a structure next to the sea where high tides and saltwater could corrode the equipment, then the frequency of inspection would be increased. Similarly if the permanent access equipment in a high temperature, corrosive environment, such as a steel forging plant, again there will be a need to increase the frequency of inspection. Again, if it’s installed in a factory with arduous working conditions, such as paints, chemicals, grit blasting or very acidic or alkaline conditions, the frequency of inspection will be increased.
The guidance states that 12 monthly inspections is the maximum, so the onus is on the employer to ensure that the frequency of inspection is appropriate to the environment in which the work at height equipment is installed. Employers should carry out a risk assessment to assess the potential for deterioration of the equipment before the next inspection is due.
There is always a risk with work at height, which is why so many businesses decide to outsource services such as outdoor maintenance, window cleaning and external facilities management. However, employers must show a duty of care to employees and contractors working on their buildings. If, as an employer, you can show that you have a regular inspection regime in place and this is fully compliant with Work at Height Regulations, then you are reducing the risks of accidents and incidents. When an inspection has been carried out, you need to ensure that you have the appropriate paperwork. Good record keeping is essential and every individual piece of permanent or temporary access equipment for work at heights should be certified with a visible tag attached to it, demonstrating that it is fit for purpose and giving the date on which it was inspected and the date by which the next inspection is due.
There are many reasons why it makes sense to outsource your compliance and inspection requirements for work at heights. For many companies, it simply gives them the peace of mind that this is taken care of and that they do not need to worry about inspections running overdue and equipment therefore being out of date and potentially hazardous.
Choose Heightsafe for all your Work at Height Requirements
In conclusion, although the responsibility for ensuring the safety of employees ultimately remains with building owners and managers, the fact that they utilise the services of a specialist partner demonstrates that they place safety above all else.
If you would like more information about our inspection services for working at height, or would like to buy any fall protection equipment call 0203 819 7199 or contact us here.