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Working at heights is a necessary aspect of many industries in the Middle East, but it can also be one of the most dangerous. Workers who are exposed to the risks associated with working in elevated locations must be properly trained and equipped to carry out their work safely. Unfortunately, falls from heights are a leading cause of workplace fatalities and injuries worldwide. Therefore, it is essential for project managers, health and safety managers, and maintenance managers to be aware of the risks and hazards associated with working at heights, and to implement measures to control them.
To ensure safety when conducting work at elevated levels, it is crucial to follow best practices for planning and preparing for the work activities done at a height. This includes conducting a thorough risk assessment before beginning work, selecting the appropriate fall protection equipment, providing proper training to workers, and developing an emergency plan for rescue operations. Additionally, a hierarchy of control should be implemented to minimize risk and prevent falls from occurring. By following these best practices, employers can help prevent accidents and injuries associated with working in elevated positions.
The legal requirements for working at height vary from country to country in the Middle East. However, they generally aim to ensure the safety of workers by establishing standards and guidelines that must be followed. In most cases, these requirements are enforced by the Ministry of Labour or other relevant regulatory agencies.
In general, the legal requirements require that employers provide a safe working environment for their workers and implement measures to minimize the risk of falls. This includes providing workers with appropriate equipment and training, conducting regular inspections of equipment, and following safe work practices.
In the Middle East, there are several regulations and standards that are relevant to safety at heights. Some of the most common regulations and standards include:
By following these regulations and standards, employers can help create a safe working environment for their workers.
To conduct a Risk Assessment employers must understand the hazards and potential risks associated with work activity performed at height. This includes identifying potential hazards such as roof edges, skylights, and fragile roof materials. They should also evaluate the likelihood and severity of any potential risks, such as falls, being struck by objects, etc.
Risk assessment tools and techniques are available to aid in the identification and evaluation of potential hazards. These can include checklists, hazard and operability studies, and job safety analyses. The use of these tools can help ensure that all potential hazards are identified and evaluated thoroughly.
After completing a risk assessment, appropriate control measures must be implemented to reduce the risks identified. The hierarchy of control should be applied to select the most effective control measures, starting with eliminating the hazard if possible, followed by engineering controls, administrative controls, and finally, personal protective equipment (PPE).
In addition to identifying and reducing risks, regular safety audits should be conducted to ensure that all control measures are in place and functioning correctly. This can include reviewing equipment inspection records, identifying and correcting any deficiencies in equipment or procedures, and providing refresher training for workers as needed. A fall protection safety audit can help ensure that workers are safe while performing tasks at a height and can help prevent injuries and fatalities.
The appropriate equipment should be chosen based on the type of work being carried out, the height of the work, and the level of risk involved. Employers must conduct a risk assessment to identify the hazards and risks associated with work performed at height. Once the risks have been identified, appropriate control measures must be implemented, including the selection of the appropriate safety equipment. Failure to select the right equipment can lead to severe injury or death in the event of a fall from height.
There are several different types of safety equipment that may be required when working at heights depending on the activity. These include but are not limited to:
Guardrails are a passive form of fall protection and are designed to prevent falls from height. They consist of a horizontal rail, a mid-rail, and a toe board. Guardrails should be used where possible as they provide a physical barrier between the worker and the fall hazard.
Fall arrest systems are comprised of various components such as harnesses, lanyards, anchor points, and connectors, this system prevents falls by immediately arresting the downward movement of a worker in the event of a fall. It acts as a lifeline, absorbing the impact and distributing forces across the body to minimize injury risks.
Rooftop walkways are engineered pathways designed for safe and controlled access on the roofs of buildings or structures. These walkways provide a secure route for maintenance personnel, technicians, or occupants to navigate rooftops while minimizing the risk of accidents or damage. Typically constructed with non-slip surfaces, guardrails, and other safety features, rooftop walkways ensure compliance with safety regulations and reduce the likelihood of falls.
Skylight protection refers to the measures and systems implemented to ensure the safety of individuals in spaces containing skylights, which are windows or openings on roofs designed to allow natural light to enter indoor areas. Skylight protection strategies encompass various safety mechanisms, such as guardrails, screens, and grilles, aimed at preventing accidental falls or injuries.
Selecting and inspecting the right safety equipment is critical in ensuring the safety of workers. When selecting equipment, employers should consider the type of work being carried out, the height of the work, and the level of risk involved. Employers should also ensure that the equipment they select is appropriate for the worker's weight, height, and body size. Once the equipment has been selected, it must be inspected before use. Inspection should be carried out by a competent person and should include a visual inspection of the equipment for any signs of damage or wear. Any equipment found to be damaged or worn should be taken out of service immediately and replaced.
It is essential to provide comprehensive training to all personnel involved in work at height activities. This includes but not limited to project managers, health and safety managers, and maintenance managers, as well as the workers themselves. By providing proper training, you can ensure that your employees understand the risks involved and have the necessary skills and knowledge to work safely at heights.
The type of training required for the work activities will depend on the specific tasks involved. Some common examples of work at height activities include working on roofs, scaffolding, ladders, and towers. For each of these activities, specific training may be necessary. For example, workers who will be working on roofs may need to be trained on how to safely access and navigate the roof, how to identify hazards such as fragile roof materials, and how to properly use fall protection equipment. Workers who will be working on scaffolding may need to be trained on how to assemble and disassemble scaffolding properly and how to use it safely.
In addition to job-specific training, it is also essential to provide general safety training related to safety at heights. This training should cover topics such as the importance of following safety procedures, the proper use and maintenance of fall protection equipment, and the hierarchy of control for working at height. It is crucial to ensure that all personnel involved in work-at-height activities have received adequate training and possess the necessary skills and knowledge to work safely at heights.
Emergency planning and rescue play a crucial role in ensuring the safety of workers in the event of an accident or emergency situation. It is important for employers to understand the importance of emergency planning and rescue and how to implement it effectively.
There are various types of emergency situations that can arise when working in an elevated location. These include falls, equipment malfunctions, and natural disasters such as earthquakes and hurricanes. It is essential for employers to identify potential emergency situations and develop a plan to deal with them. A comprehensive emergency plan should address different types of emergencies and provide clear guidance on what to do in each scenario.
Developing an emergency plan for involves several key steps. The first step is to identify the potential emergency situations that may occur. Once the potential emergencies have been identified, the next step is to develop a plan that outlines the steps to be taken in each scenario. This plan should be communicated to all employees who are involved in the work activity, and they should be trained on how to implement it.
In addition to developing an emergency plan, it is also important to have a rescue team that is trained and equipped to handle emergency situations. The rescue team should consist of individuals who have received specialized training in rescue operations and have the necessary equipment to perform rescues safely. The equipment required for rescue operations may include harnesses, ropes, pulleys, and rescue kits among other things.
With the diverse range of work environments in the Middle East, it is important to consider the specific fall hazards and challenges that come with each job site. This is where a company specialised in fall protection can make all the difference.
Companies specialised in fall protection can provide expert advice and guidance on the most appropriate fall protection solutions for a given work environment. They can also help with the design, installation, and inspection of fall protection systems to ensure they are compliant with relevant regulations and standards and also provide you guidance in preparing emergency rescue plans.
Choosing the wrong fall protection solution can lead to severe consequences, including injury or even death. This is why it is essential to work with a company that has a proven track record of delivering effective fall protection solutions. By partnering with a specialised fall protection company, employers can have peace of mind knowing that their workers are protected and that their fall protection systems are reliable and up to standard.
In conclusion, working at heights presents a significant risk to workers in the Middle East, and it is essential that employers take appropriate measures to ensure the safety of their workers. This includes complying with legal and regulatory requirements, conducting comprehensive risk assessments, selecting and inspecting appropriate safety equipment, providing training and ensuring competence, and developing and implementing emergency plans and rescue procedures.
The hierarchy of controls should be used to minimize the risk of falls from heights, and when risks cannot be eliminated, appropriate fall protection measures should be implemented. The use of standard-compliant safety equipment and the training of personnel in their proper use are crucial elements of effective fall protection.
Ultimately, by taking the necessary steps to manage risks at height, employers can create a safer working environment for their employees, reduce the likelihood of accidents, and prevent injuries and fatalities.
Kee Safety has been in the fall protection industry for over 80 years and has built a reputation as a leading provider of safety solutions. We provide a wide range of safety equipment and systems, including guardrails, lifelines, abseil solutions, safe access platforms, and personal protective equipment, that comply with international standards and the relevant regulations and standards in the Middle East.
In addition to providing safety equipment, Kee Safety also offers a range of services to support clients in ensuring the safety of their workers at height. This includes design support & consultation, site surveys to identify hazards and recommend the appropriate safety solutions, and ongoing support for maintenance and inspection of our safety systems.