Tag Archives: fall


Reducing the dangers of the high life 

The risks of working at heights are obvious with potential for accidents whilst climbing to and dismounting from the raised point and while carrying out the work once there. In legal terms the word ‘height’ is applied to any surface above the ground from which a fall could result in injury. This could equally be the middle rung of a ladder or a raised operations platform. When it comes to this type of hazardous work, there are certain legal requirements which must be met by the employer. Here we will look at some of the key rules set out in the Working at Height Regulations 2005 pertaining to access and platform safety and safeguard mechanisms for arresting falls (Schedules 1, 3 and 4 of the government legislation) 

While most employers will search for alternative ways to complete work at raised points, such as using mechanical long arms for window and gutter cleaning, it is more often necessary for a hands-on approach to ensure the task is done correctly. The most important areas where safety must be assured are the access points and the working platforms, both of which will be upholding an operator who will be in varying degrees of motion, depending on the task. Therefore, the principal regulations for both sections are the same. The access route and platform must be suitably stable, strong and rigid for the purpose and large enough to hold the person safely upon it. There must be substantial fall-prevention mechanisms in place and no gaps through which any person may fall or become trapped. They must also both be constructed with a non-slippery surface. 

In the event of a fall, certain safeguards can be in place to prevent injury. However, the safeguard must enable the work to be carried out freely without adding to the risk, for example with excess ropes dangling or creating a trip-hazard. If it is indeed ropes which are in use, then training is obligatory for all operators, such as the IRATA (Industrial Rope Access Trade Association) qualification for abseiling. Rope-based safeguarding techniques must also take into account the elasticity of the rope on impact, meaning a much shorter rope than the actual drop distance. If it is an airbag or landing mat being used then this must be secure and stable upon the ground. The safeguard must also be such that it does not injure any person when put to use. 

These regulations are just a few of those which apply to all work carried out at height. Jobs which must abide by these rules include telecommunications rigging, window cleaning, film crews, building, scaffolding and cladding construction. It is legally the employer’s responsibility to ensure their workforce’s safety at all times, but designers and planners must also consider the risks when a new project is being developed. Risk assessments are then used to decide the type of precautions to be put in place so that with sufficient planning and preparation, work carried out at heights can be both safe and productive. 

This article was written by Emily Banham on behalf of Groves Window Cleaning, established in 1985, has over 25 year’s experience of commercial window cleaning. More information on Working At Heights can be found on the following link – http://www.groveswindowcleaning.co.uk/working-at-heights.html.



In some parts of the country, it comes earlier than others, but September 23rd  is the first day of fall!   The northern states are already feeling cooler temperatures and seeing the changing of  colors.  It takes a little longer for those of us in the southern states; however, the early mornings are beginning to feel somewhat cooler.  For most of us, it’s a favorite time of the year.  Kids are back in school, football is in full swing, baseball playoffs are around the corner, and in general, it’s a great time.  

Fall brings a reminder of tasks that must be done to get ready for winter.  As the leaves begin to fall and cover the yard, the pleasure of raking them up is ahead.  Be sure to wear some good work gloves to avoid rubbing blisters.  Pruning trees is another chore, and should be done with extreme care.  Standing on a stepladder to prune trees isn’t a safe idea.  When you are lifting boxes full of trash and debris from the yard, remember to lift with your legs and don’t strain your back.  

Taking a drive on a beautiful fall day is a great idea.  There’s nothing better than seeing the array of colors.  Use extra caution, though, as there may be more animals crossing the roads during cooler days and evenings.  Deer, raccoons, skunks, and many other little critters are out and about, and not watching for you, so you must watch for them.  Those pretty leaves that fall from the trees can build up on the roads and create a driving hazard, if they are wet.  When wet, they become the same hazard as puddles or standing water.  They also may be covering potholes or other holes in the road.  Early cool mornings can also be foggy.  Fog is the single most dangerous condition a driver can encounter, so slow down. 

If you choose to take one last fall hike or outing, please consider using the same precautions that we have passed on to you before:

  • Take your cell phone.
  • Tell someone where you are going and when you plan to return.
  • Watch for snakes, as they prepare for hibernation, they may be more restless.
  • Take along plenty of water, food, a first aid kit and supplies and flashlight.
  • Keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot while you are camping.
  • Don’t attempt to get close to wild animals.
  • Wear high visibility vests and caps.
  • Stay alert to weather changes. 

Seasonal allergies also plague some of us in the fall.  Be sure you have some over-the-counter medication to take before they get the best of you; if necessary, ask your doctor to prescribe allergy medicine so you can enjoy the season. 

As you are driving to work, be sure to watch for children on their way to school.  Allow driving time to reach your destination without rushing.  As you go home, remember the days will be becoming shorter, meaning darkness will come earlier.  Enjoy every day of the season, and stay safe and well.  Be sure to get your flu shot if you haven’t done so already. 

One last reminder: your pets will notice the changes in the weather, too.  Be sure that those who live outside have good shelter, water, and extra food when the days get cold.  They are family members, too, and deserve to be well cared for.


In the United States Construction industry, falls are the leading cause of worker fatalities.  An average of between 150-200 workers each year are killed and more than 100,000 injuries are the result of falls at construction sites.  Accidental falls are complex events resulting from either equipment-related or human issues.  Therefore, the standards for protection deal with both matters for success in preventing fall hazards.  Fall protection systems should be carefully designed for appropriate work situations.  Proper installation of safety systems, safe work procedures, training and supervision are necessary to ensure workers’ security, as well as the required Personal Protective Equipment.

Listed is a short glossary of fall prevention equipment that is appropriate for most endeavors:

  • Anchorage – Secure point of attachment for lanyards, lifelines or deceleration devices.
  • Body Harness – Straps secured about the person that distribute fall-arrest forces over thighs, pelvis, waist, chest and shoulders, which is attached to other parts of fall-arrest system.
  • Deceleration Device – Any mechanism: rope, grab, forms of lanyards, auto retracting lanyards that dissipate a substantial amount of energy during fall arrest.
  • Lanyard – Flexible line of rope or strap that has connectors to a deceleration device, lifeline, or anchorage.

Along with the proper use of fall-arrest devices, ladder safety is of prime importance.  Some tips from the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission include:

  • Always make sure weight does not exceed the maximum load, consider user weight plus material.
  • Be sure the ladder is the proper length: 3 feet minimum extending over working surface or roofline.
  • Use wooden or fiberglass ladders in the vicinity of power lines or electric equipment.
  • Don’t place ladder in front of door that is not guarded, blocked, or locked.
  • Follow instruction labels on ladders.
  • Don’t stand on the three top rungs of ladder.
  • Set the ladder up at a 75° angle.
  • Be sure locks on extension ladders are properly engaged.



By now, everyone has seen the massive stadium in Arlington, Texas, that is home to the Dallas Cowboys.  On December 3, two men who were working at the top of the stadium fell 50’ to 75’on the roof of that building.  They had stepped out from the retractable roof, and after discovering the icy surface, they slid down to a roof gutter.  One of the injured persons called for help on his cell phone.  If the gutter had not been there, they would have fallen more than 200 more feet, and the end of the story would probably have been much worse.

The bad part of the story is, from all accounts, they were not wearing safety harnesses, according to numerous news media accounts.  On a later report, a harness was shown that they claimed to be wearing; however, it was not hooked to anything!  If you take a look at that building, how could anyone step out on top of that thing without safety equipment?

OSHA immediately began an investigation, which could take several months.

The Arlington Fire and Rescue team got the workers down.  After taking about 30 minutes to reach the injured men, twelve to fifteen firefighters worked their way down with ropes, baskets and ladders, accomplishing the feat in around 90 minutes.  One man was taken by air rescue to a hospital, and the other transferred to a hospital by ambulance.  Their injuries were serious, but not life-threatening.  Thank goodness for this rescue team, which has been preparing for such a rescue since construction began on the $1.2 billion stadium.

There will probably be much more information disclosed once the investigation is complete.  In the meantime, it is very inappropriate for companies to not have adequately trained workers that risk their lives to do very treacherous jobs.  Standing on top of a football stadium that is more than 300’ to the ground would require the very best personal protective equipment, (i.e., harnesses, lanyards) to safeguard human lives.  It will be interesting to see what facts come out.

Again, every time we see an accident, we need to realize that without our rapid response teams, we would be in deep trouble.  They risk their lives to get us out of some pretty good pickles!