Working at heights can be dangerous, even for seasoned professionals who are experienced at carrying out tasks in such conditions. There are many variables which need to be carefully considered when working in high-up environments, and naturally, many safety precautions which need to be implemented. When working at height, there are pro-active and reactive ways of maintaining safety:
Proactive – Fall prevention
As the name suggests, fall prevention helps to maintain a worker’s safety by eliminating the risk of falling in the first place. This is achieved by installing physical barriers such as platforms and guardrail systems between an operative and a fall hazard. These barriers can be very beneficial because they eliminate the need for harnesses and so allow workers to move freely and carry out their tasks more productively.
Reactive – Fall arrest
This is the term used to describe the safe stopping of a person who has fallen from a height and is experiencing free-fall. The actual “arrest” stops a worker from hitting a lower level, protruding ledge, or even the ground, by limiting the distance they can fall. This is achieved by using personal arrest items such as anchors, harnesses, lanyards and vertical lifelines.
While fall prevention, may cost more initially, it can easily pay for itself in the long term as it creates an environment where workers can be immediately safe and so more productive in their work. However, a truly safe environment will include both pro-active and reactive fall protection measures.