The hierarchy of control for fall protection when working at heights is a crucial framework to eliminate or minimize fall hazards. It is widely accepted by governing bodies as the starting point for determining the necessary fall protection system.
Whether you are planning, managing, or working at height, it is essential to understand the control measures that should be implemented to ensure safety.
What is the hierarchy of control?
As part of Kee Safety Group, Kee Systems follows “Kee Safety’s hierarchy of control”.
It consists of four steps designed to help you effectively address fall hazards. These steps are based on the principles of avoidance, prevention, and minimization, supported by appropriate training.
- Avoiding working at height
The first step is to avoid working at heights whenever possible. This can be achieved by redesigning tasks or changing work practices to eliminate the need for working at height. For example, placing air conditioning units on the ground instead of the roof or using a reach and wash system for window cleaning instead of a ladder. These simple changes can eliminate the need for working at height.
- Prevent falls using collective equipment
If working at height cannot be avoided, the second step is to prevent falls using collective equipment. This includes implementing measures such as guarded platforms or edge protection to protect individuals from fall hazards. Collective protection is preferred as it safeguards everyone in the area and requires minimal training and maintenance.
- Prevent falls using personal protective equipment
The third step involves preventing falls using personal protective equipment (PPE)This includes fall restraint systems, which restrict the user’s movement within a specified area to prevent them from reaching fall risks or hazards. This method is suitable for tasks like general roof repairs or gutter maintenance when collective measures are not feasible. It is crucial to ensure that the PPE is designed and tested to the correct standards to provide effective protection.
- Minimise distance using personal protective equipment
If all other options are not possible, the fourth step is to minimize the distance of a fall using personal protective equipment. This involves using fall arrest systems, including an anchor point, lanyard, and full body harness, to arrest a falling person before they hit the ground or an object. This step should only be used as a last resort when the previous three steps are not viable and by individuals trained to use the equipment.
In summary, the hierarchy of control for fall protection provides a systematic approach to addressing fall hazards when working at heights. By following these steps, you can ensure the safety of individuals and minimize the risk of falls.
- Minimise consequences through training and instruction
Competency is vital when it comes to working at height. Many accidents occur due to a lack of proper training, so it is crucial to provide sufficient training and instruction to anyone working at height to ensure they can perform their tasks safely and competently.
Training should cover safe working practices, equipment usage, and equipment inspection by the manufacturer’s recommendations. It should not be a one-time event; training levels must be maintained, and refresher training should be conducted regularly to ensure ongoing competency.
Training is especially important for fall arrest and restraint systems, as these rely on the worker using the equipment correctly for individual protection. Only through proper training can someone be considered competent to work at height.
Preventing falls from height
Working at height is inherently dangerous, so it is essential to question the necessity of any task that requires working at height. If it is necessary, following our simple 4-step hierarchy of control will help you implement the appropriate control measures to protect workers and minimize risks.
These straightforward steps can significantly contribute to creating a safe working environment.
Remember, your duty of care does not end with following the hierarchy and selecting the correct system. You must also ensure that all equipment is regularly checked and inspected to ensure it is in good working condition and safe to use.