“If you worried about falling off the bike, you’d never get on.” – Lance Armstrong
Some jobs are relatively easy and safe to perform such as balancing a company’s books of accounts in an air-conditioned room and on a very comfortable office chair where the only real risk is being berated by the boss for putting an extra “0” on an account that’s only supposed to reflect $1,000.00. Then there are jobs that literally involve high risks, such as working on highly elevated scaffoldings for construction work or cleaning the windows of a high-rise building.
But despite the high risk of accidents from working from heights, such types of jobs still need to get done. To paraphrase Lance Armstrong’s quote, if you’ll always worry about falling off a scaffolding or high platform, you’d never get on it and get the job done. And the best way to get over this fear is by knowing specific risks that are involved when working from heights so that you can do something to either minimize the chances of such risks manifesting and mitigating the impacts of such when they do happen.
Risk Of Working From Heights
Generally speaking, all the risks that arise as a result of working from heights involve people getting injured or worse, dying from an accident. But such injuries can be classified according to the person that may be affected by accidents from working from heights: the workers themselves and others. Let’s take a look at the risks people who work from heights face.
The primary risk workers face from working above the ground is the risk of falling to the ground. And this risk can come several other sub-risks: platform instability, platform overcrowding, platform collapse, and climbing or descending accidents due to substandard climbing structures. Many workers fall from heights simply because the platforms they were standing on weren’t securely established and were wobbly to begin with. When you’re high above ground, there’s very little leeway for shaking because the higher a person is from the ground, the harder his fall will be and the greater the injury.
When the platform is either too small or when the platform is overcrowded, the risk of a worker accidentally stepping off is very high, especially when he’s hyper focused on what he’s doing. Weak platforms can also give way under the weight of the workers and their tools, which can obviously lead to potentially fatal falls. And accidental falls can also happen while a worker is climbing up or down the platform because of weak ladders or other climbing equipment.
When it comes to other people or non-height workers, they also face the risk of getting injured if a heavy piece of equipment or a worker himself falls on him. When that happens, it’s a double whammy as both the worker and non-worker get injured.
Don’t Just Know…. Act!
There’s a saying that knowing is only half the battle. That presupposes the other half is acting on what you know. While knowing the risks both workers and non-workers face due to work performed from height is an excellent way to start managing your company and workers’ risks well, that won’t mean anything unless you implement measures to mitigate such risks and their potential impacts on the company, your workers, and possibly non-workers. That’s why it’s important not to just know your risk – you must act on them!