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Feature Working at height

> But over the next decade, as the

construction sector builds out the pipeline of 263 tall buildings proposed for the capital, it would be foolhardy to predict that our changing climate won’t impact on typical windspeeds, heavy rains and storm events. Whatever the nuances of the climate debate, contractors will increasingly need to model the weather as a variable in plans and programmes. CM

Height safety fact fi le

● According to the HSE, working at height remains the biggest cause of fatalities and major injuries in construction. In its most recent report, for 2013/14, there were 19 fatalities caused by falling from height – 45% of all deaths in construction. A fall from height was also responsible for 31% of the major/specifi ed injuries in construction, with 581 cases reported.

● Working at height in the UK is regulated by the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (HSW Act), which places general duties on what is reasonably practicable on a site. This is complemented by the Work at Height Regulations 2005, specifying duties on employers, the self-employed and any person that controls the work of others.

● In the past fi ve years 15.5% of prohibition and improvement notices issued by the HSE in the construction industry were the result of breaches to the Work at Height Regulations, according to a search on its online database. Over the past fi ve years there were 47,191 notices in total; 7,289 related to working at height.

“Oil and gas is really, really safe and that’s why I moved”

We spoke to an Industrial Rope Access Trade Association (IRATA) level 3 rope access supervisor with more than 10 years’ experience in both the construction and oil and gas sectors to get a fi rst-hand understanding of how safety at height is perceived

“Rope access is a potentially dangerous industry, but if you do it right, maintain all actions and follow all procedures it can be very safe. Unfortunately on some jobs safety is not taken as seriously as it should be. “It’s hard to tell before you start

working on a job how seriously safety will be taken. Every site you go to gives the same health and safety talk, as they are legally required to, but this doesn’t mean they take it seriously, they can just be running through the motions. You can only tell when it comes to the crunch, when something unsafe is happening, by how the person in charge reacts. “UK legislation says that management

have a responsibility to provide a ‘reasonably practicable’ safe system of work. But you also have a responsibility for your own safety, so in theory everyone is empowered to stop working when they think something is unsafe. In reality this is not the case. There can be a tension between boss and employer as there is a real chance that if you are holding up a job, especially for a small employer, you are damaging the bottom line. Most jobs don’t have the budget to stop work for two days. “On shore, people in rope access are

often self-employed so want to work whether it is wet, windy or dangerous. On site there are times you are asked to do something and you know you are uncomfortable with it; to stop it someone has to stand up and say it is unacceptable. This can be tough depending on the job. And of course, in an emergency when

”In theory everyone is empowered to stop working when they think something is unsafe. In reality this is not the case” Rope access supervisor

something has to happen very quickly you will still get pushed to do things you’re not comfortable with. “Oil and gas is really, really safe and

that’s why I moved to this industry. Although on larger construction sites safety is usually taken seriously, on smaller sites you do not feel empowered to stop working when it gets unsafe. After one too many unsafe experiences I decided to move. “To make sites safer, direction needs to

come from the top down and this is what happens in oil and gas where the large companies really stamp their feet about safety. This trickles down to the point where my boss tells me I have to report anything unsafe and I feel empowered to stop working when a job becomes unsafe.”

Does adverse weather cost

you time and money? Our Tower Crane and other bespoke forecasts give you advance warning of clear weather windows and adverse weather conditions.

Call 0370 900 0100 or email to learn more about our height specific and new location based forecasts.


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