Work Smart. Work Safe.
Keep your "Heads Up" and work safe!

Movin’ on up…Safely

By Calissa Reid

When I was first getting to know my boyfriend, I asked him what his favourite TV show was. His response: “I don’t really watch TV, just hockey.”

I was floored. How could he not watch television when I was seriously committed to at least three or four shows a week? Well, a couple years down the road I can tell you, if the TV is on in our apartment, we are watching hockey.

I love watching hockey, but I was also very happy to visit my parents’ house over the holidays to take advantage of their extended cable package.  One day, I was watching one of my old favourites, Dirty Jobs, and I saw this.

There are a LOT of things that I would not do if I was on Dirty Jobs —  inspecting sewers, cleaning animal skulls and crushing toilets just to name a few— but I’d turn this one down for a different reason. This “traditional” PPE does not fly with me. Whenever you are working from height, whether that means on scaffolding or working on an old ship, you need to take certain precautions to stay safe.

Working at height is one of the biggest causes of fatalities in the workplace. The most common hazards associated with working from height are falls, and objects falling on others working in the area below. I’ve searched for some tips for handling heights to lessen the risk of injury when working from above.

  • You need a strong surface. Make sure that whatever you will be standing on or working from is strong and secure. It should be able to support your weight and any equipment needed to get the job done.
  • Work from the ground up. Complete as much work as possible from the ground before working at height. Build structures on the ground and assemble them with lifting equipment.
  • Prepare for the elements. Wind, rain and snow can raise the risk of injury when working from height. Consider the weather before moving to higher ground. It’s better to be stuck on the ground and lose a day of work than face high winds on a suspended platform.
  • Strap in. Fall protection is there to keep you safe. Use it properly and it could save your life. Fall protection could be guard rails, a fall arrest harness, or soft landing systems. Check out Melissa’s blog post  to find out more on falls and fall protection.
  • Keep an eye on your equipment. You could seriously injure the people working below you if you drop something when working at a high altitude. Keep your tools tethered to you and make sure that your coworkers below are wearing hard hats to protect their heads. 

If you have to work at height, work with your employer to ensure you have the proper training before you make your way upwards. Working from height may sound scary, but with the right preparation and protection, it is safe.  If you are concerned, talk to your employer. He or she may be able to give you additional advice or find a new task for you.

As always, work smart and work safe… And after watching one too many episodes of Dirty Jobs over the holidays, I hope you get to work clean as well!

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