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Falls from height are among the most common causes of serious work related injuries and deaths. Many employers are unaware of their obligations when it comes to fall protection.
The first priority must always be to “design out” the need to work at height. If this is not possible then the next requirement is to provide a collective or non user participant solution or, if this is not practical, to provide personal or user participant solutions. Failing that, the final measure is to provide demarcation for the area at a suitable distance – at least 2m from the edge where the work is being carried out.
Other factors will also affect the final product solution; these may include:
Kee Safety's Fall Protection systems are legislation led and comply with the relevant EN or OSHA regulations. Below is a shot guide to legislation, standards and guidance which should be considered when assessing the individual needs and then recommending and installing the product solution.
The Health and Safety at work act 1974 imposes general duties on every person involved in the design, construction and post construction use of any structure, as well as all workplaces.
The Health and Safety at work act 1974 is an enabling act meaning it is the law and enables other regulations to be made and enforced under it. There is a considerable amount of legislation here which is in a state of constant update and change.
The Health and Safety at work act 1974 states that it is the responsibility of the employer (or self employed person) to ensure, where practicable, the health, safety & welfare of all persons involved in the construction and use of a work place.
The most relevant of the regulations under the Health and Safety at work act 1974 for the construction industry are:
These regulations came into force on the 29th December 1999 and set out broad general duties which apply to almost all work activities in Great Britain and offshore. They are aimed mainly at improving health and safety management and lay down a more explicit requirement as outlined under the HSW Act 1974. Regulation 3 requires employers to assess the risks to health and safety so as to ensure that the necessary preventative and protective measures can be identified and regulation 4 requires that the employer ensures that the principles of prevention are applied.
According to the European directive 89/656/CEE, the employer or company responsible must put fall protection measures in place for persons working at height. The employer should try to minimise the risk through design or engineering controls and provide measures to prevent falls. If this is not feasible then other protective measures should be considered, such as personal fall protection equipment and systems.
It covers the specific conditions required to place into the European market and the basic safety requirements of all PPE. To show compliance products are CE Marked by a notified body.
Section 8 of the Regulations requires that PPE may not be placed on the market unless:
Introduced in 2005 the Working at Height Regulations (WaHR) replace all the earlier regulations, consolidated previous legislation on working at height and implement European Council Directive 2001/45/EC concerning the minimum safety and health requirements for the use of equipment for working at height (the Temporary Work at Height Directive).
One of the major differences from the existing regulations is that it removed the "6 feet rule" which stated the minimum height where workers required fall protection and instead defines that a place is "at height" if a person could be injured falling from it, even if it is at or below ground level.
The regulations place duties on employers, the self-employed, and any person who controls the work of others (e.g. facilities managers or building owners who may contract others to work at height) to ensure:
As with the original 1994 legislation, the updated Regulations continue to place duties on all those who can contribute to the health and safety of a construction project i.e. clients, designers, contractors, and planning supervisors, requiring the production of certain documents, the health and safety plan and the health and safety file.
Specifically, the designer's duties include the avoidance of risks to people:
The main changes in the 2007 Regulations were made to simplify the existing system by unifying CDM and the Construction (Health, Safety & Welfare) Regulations 1996 into a single package. Additionally there is a more explicit duty on architects to eliminate hazards and reduce risks during the design stage as far as is reasonably practicable, plus there is a new duty to ensure that workplaces comply with Construction (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations.
These regulations set out principles for selecting, providing, maintaining, and using personal protective equipment (PPE). PPE is defined as "all equipment which is intended to be worn or held by a person at work and which protects him against one or more risks to his health and safety". This includes most types of protective clothing, and equipment such as eye, foot, and head protection, safety harnesses, life jackets, and high visibility clothing.
The regulations demand that the user and the employer (where different) are responsible for maintaining the PPE in an efficient state, according to the manufacturer’s regulations.
OSHA has revised its construction industry safety standards and developed systems and procedures designed to prevent employees from falling off, onto, or through working levels (Federal Register, August 0, 1994, pp. 40672-40753).
The rule identifies the areas or activities where fall protection is needed. These include, but are not limited to, ramps, runways, and other walkways; excavations; hoist areas; holes; formwork and reinforcing steel; leading-edge work; unprotected sides and edges; roofing work; wall openings. This means that construction employers must protect their employees from fall hazards whenever an affected employee is 1.8m or more above a lower level.
Fall protection generally can be provided through the use of guardrail systems, safety net systems, personal fall arrest systems, positioning device systems, and warning line systems, among others.
The OSHA rule clarifies what an employer must do to provide fall protection for employees, such as identifying and evaluating fall hazards and providing specific training.