Working Safely at Height

6 Tips for Working Safely at Height


At Universal Hire, our most important priority is to ensure a safe and productive MEWP or mobile elevating work platforms for our customers. Operators must strictly follow the laid down operating practices outlined in the manufacturer’s recommended guidelines to ensure that the equipment works productively and safely.

Whether you only work at height occasionally or it’s your everyday job, working safely should always be top of your priority list. Only one mistake can turn a normal task into one serious fatality. Hiring the right access equipment helps to protect your employees whenever they are exposed to danger. Here are our safety tips for operating a safe work platform.

1. Use Railing

The railing is a type of passive protection and is the fastest way and most recommended one for keeping workers safe and at the same time achieving compliance. Workers don’t need training and neither is extra equipment required for your employees to be safe.

Railing systems exist for nearly all styles and types of rooftops. These include parapet mounted railing, non-penetrating railing, and metal roofing among others. Irrespective of the type you use, rails are undoubtedly the easiest fall protection of all access equipment.

2. Select the Proper PPE

In case you plan to use PFAS (Personal Fall Arrest Systems), it is recommended to make sure that you choose the right equipment for your work platform. A full-body harness meeting ANSI standards works the same, their cost notwithstanding. But this price difference is enough to gain you something extra. While sometimes it’s just a name, it is functionality that you could be gaining or sacrificing at other times, for instance, fireproof material, arc-safe design, or D-rings. A pricier harness could cost more just because it has been made more comfortable.

Research thoroughly and know what your work platform needs are. If your workers will be welding at heights, you would need more than a standard nylon harness to protect them from heat. The best option might be Kevlar. While there is no doubt about the importance of comfort, the main concern should be the adjustability of the harness to properly fit the user. This ensures that it will work as designed.

You also need to pay attention to the lanyards that you choose. For example, depending on your working height, a six-inch lanyard complete with a deceleration device may fail to protect your worker. Rather, you may need to opt for a retractable lanyard. No two situations are the same, so you have to analyze your working conditions as well as the work that needs to be performed. This way, you will give your workers the right gear to protect them.

3. Inspect Your PPE

It’s not just enough to get the gear that ensures your work environment is protected. This will be of little benefit if the pieces of equipment are worn and fail. Inspect your harnesses and lanyards annually, and make sure a competent person oversees the inspection. The person needs to have the knowledge to identify a hazard as well as the body to correct it.

But when it comes to PPE, a user needs to inspect them prior to each use. That means that anyone using the devices knows what they are looking for, steps to take in case of an issue, and what is the minimum acceptable standards. The good news is that it takes just a short time to conduct a pre-use check.

4. Choose an Acceptable Anchor Point

There are many factors affecting fall safety, more so when it comes to PPE. There is no use of a lanyard and harness setup if the load won’t be held by an anchor point.

So, what makes up an acceptable anchor point? Far from what many think, it is not the PVC pipe or even the decorative steel piece on the roof that makes this type of access equipment acceptable and safe. For an anchor point to be deemed acceptable, it has to meet the following criteria:

  • It is not only designed but also approved by a qualified engineer with calculated expected loads.
  • It can comfortably handle a 5,000-pound load.

Structural steel with the right beam clamp should be your ideal choice because not many structures will be able to handle these forces.

5. Choose Appropriate Access Equipment for Working at Heights

In the same way that harnesses aren’t one-size-fits-all, the same can be said of fall protection solutions. A scaffold will be your ideal solution for working at height in some situations. For example, washing low-level windows or painting a house. In that case, make sure you have equipped the scaffolding with the right railing. The safety precaution ensures that your work protection is a lot simpler to address.

Yet other situations call for the use of a lift. You may need to put on a lanyard and a harness or not, depending on the lift type. Still, other work platform situations would demand the use of a ladder, which makes the fall protection requirements to be a little trickier. Durable and portable scaffolding can replace a ladder, for instance, the Easi-Dec system.

To recap, it’s important to realize your situation as well as the mobile elevation work platform needed, whether it is a scaffold, lift, or ladder.

6. Use Ladders Properly

A lot of workplace accidents are attributed to the fact that we take the use of ladders for granted. Before you use a ladder, consider whether it is the most practical answer to the task at hand or not. After that, ensure your workers are properly trained to use this access equipment safely. Using a ladder may look simple and straightforward, but that is seldom the case.


It takes a lot to ensure a safe work platform for your employees especially if they are working at height. They need to choose the right gear, receive proper training, inspect the PPE, and choose an appropriate anchor point. Additionally, you need to choose the right safety precautions and focus. Taking shortcuts or being complacent might attract fatal accidents or serious injury. For more information about how to mitigate your fall dangers, get in touch with our fall safety experts team and you will receive a free consultation.

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