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Do You Have a Head for Heights?

The figures don’t lie – 60% of deaths during work at height involve falls through fragile roofs or rooflights, from ladders, scaffolds, work platforms or roof edges. So, as the final windows are set in place by fall arrest experts on the Shard in London, are you considering a career working at height?

What Can You Do?

•    “Height” doesn’t always mean perching up in the clouds. Fall arrest and height training can equip you to work safely at all heights, including relatively low work such as low level scaffold construction, building, electrical engineering and roofing. •    Offshore work at height can pay well, especially specialist roles like filming at height, repair work, etc. •    Adventure courses and extreme sports centres require qualified supervisory staff. •     Window washing and maintenance is tough, but if you’ve got the right head for heights, a career on the 35th floor can be very rewarding. The job typically involves things like resealing window-frames, repairing glass panes, removing bird nests and fitting new equipment like external lights and security cameras. That’s just a random selection of the roles that can open up to someone with a head for heights, but more generic roles include project management, civil engineer, rigger, offshore engineer, foreman, technical compliance officer, offshore logistics, installation engineer and a host of other job opportunities.

How High Can You Go?

Rather than being a strict limitation of where the edge protection stops, this is more an issue of how high you can cope with on a mental level? •    A natural calm when working at height. Each person has his or her own ‘safe’ height, and you needn’t be Spiderman to enjoy a successful career working high up. Many of our products and courses are aimed at basic safety within a few stories in height. You can study for and accomplish much during a career with superb height safety training, even if you never head above 10m. •    A willingness to learn and follow mentorship guidelines to the last detail. •    Never tire of repetitive safety measures like using karabiners appropriately and always implementing safety measures. •    Vigilance for potential hazards throughout the job (e.g. weather, wildlife, poor site management etc). •    Attention to detail. •    A calm demeanour in the face of danger. A window cleaner working on the Shard construction site in London was recently stranded near the top of the building after strong winds caught his rig. Could you stay calm in that situation? Calm enough to maintain your safety and follow instructions?

Working at height is about great training, superb resources, trust in your own skills and respect for the dangers of working at any height. According to the HSE, falls from height are still the most common cause of death in the workplace, (coming in at an average of half of all fatalities) with 4,000 reported injuries per year.

27th July 2012 3:53 pm

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