What Does Safety at Heights Mean?
Safety at heights is a term that refers to the use of workplace safety practices to protect workers from injuries associated with work at heights. Worker injury due to falls and other hazards associated with work at heights, such as strikes from tools dropped from height, are significant causes of occupational injury and death.
Due to the increased risks associated with work at height, most occupational health and safety agencies require that workers be given safety-at-heights education training before beginning work at height. The hazard controls required for safe work at heights vary depending on the exact nature of the work involved but typically require either the use of guardrails, safety nets, or personal arrest systems to protect workers from fall injuries.
Safeopedia Explains Safety at Heights
Safety at heights is an important area of occupational safety concern due to the large number of injuries and fatalities associated with work at height. Two of OSHA’s “Big Four” safety hazards—fall hazards and struck-by hazards—are associated with work at heights, and approximately 15% of all occupational deaths in the United States are from falls.
OSHA requires the use of safety measures for work at height to be used for any construction work that takes place six feet or more above a lower level and for all general industry work that takes place four feet or more above a lower level. The safety measures required include the use of guardrails to block leading edges and/or personal fall arrest systems in cases where the use of barriers or nets isn’t possible or provides insufficient protection.
The construction industry also has its own specific safety-at-heights requirements that address industry-specific activities such as the use of elevated temporary work platforms (i.e. scaffolding). Other standard safety-at-heights regulations include requirements for workers to have completed work-at-heights safety training and the use of tethers and personal protective equipment (PPE) to prevent workers from being struck by equipment falling from a higher level.
Because the risks associated with work at heights can vary significantly depending on the work context, employers must perform a site-specific analysis of all work-at-heights hazards associated with a specific site. Safety-at-heights programs must also be site-specific so that workers are aware of the specific hazards in their environment and understand the procedures necessary to rescue any worker that does fall and subsequently needs assistance to be safely extricated from a fall protection system.