There is often a common reaction when somebody mentions ‘health and safety’. It is often followed with a roll of the eyes or a tut which suggests taking steps to avoid the risk of serious accidents and injuries is somehow a pain in the backside and not worth the time. Of course, mention health and safety to somebody who has been involved in a workplace accident or serious fall, and you may get a different reaction.
Building sites, factories, warehouses and similar environments all present a variety of potential hazards such as powerful machinery and vehicles, heavy stock, dangerous moving parts, and lots of dust and noise which can make seeing and hearing what is happening around you even more difficult. One danger all of these environments share, and which can also be found in many less dangerous work settings, is a fall from height.
The obvious health risk of working at height is that should you lose your balance and fall, there is a chance you will sustain serious injuries. This is not just true of working at a great height on scaffolding or perhaps using a large cherry picker, but also of falls from lower heights, sometimes of just a metre or two. The most serious injuries a person can suffer when falling from height are head injuries. Many people working in the construction industry have suffered life-changing and fatal head injuries when falling from a roof, scaffold tower, mobile elevating work platform (MEWP) or similar.
With such professions being largely male dominated, there is often a degree of bravado among work colleagues and the idea of abiding by health and safety procedures is almost look down upon at times. This has unfortunately led to many unnecessary accidents and injuries, but over the last few years work at height training and similar courses have been adopted more and more, and actually saved many lives.
Training is essential
One of the most remarkable things about a company or individual undertaking health and safety training to make them safer at work, is that this training may only take a few hours, while the benefits can last an entire career. Many courses only take an hour or two or perhaps half a day, whereas a full day’s training or longer courses can be an absolutely invaluable resource.
There are specific courses to train people who work with powered access platforms such as scissor lifts, and others dealing with scaffold towers and general working at height. Even the most experienced of construction workers or warehouse operatives stand to benefit from a professionally delivered and accredited training course. Many employers now make it standard practice to train new employees from day one, in order to promote health and safety at work.
Such courses have no doubt saved lives.
Health and safety is not a hindrance
So if you have ever rolled your eyes tutted at the mention of health and safety, perhaps think of the repercussions of taking a fall from height, or seeing one of your colleagues suffering such a mishap. If you regularly work off the ground it is about the most sensible thing you can do to make sure you are safeguarding your health and your life as much as possible, as well as those around you.
Indeed, even having one just person in the workplace who has undertaken a training course is far better than none. Knowing how to safely use equipment such as cherry pickers, scissors lifts, mobile access platforms, scaffold towers, as well as the safety equipment that comes with them such as harnesses and guardrails, is about as important as it gets.
If you are an employer or an individual working in a dangerous profession, the best place to start is to look for a training company offering courses accredited by PASMA and IPAF. These are the best courses available and put together by people who really know what they’re talking about. Courses are often available all over the country with a great degree of flexibility regarding locations and dates. There really is no excuse not to undertake proper health and safety training.