Safety of Work at Height

Safety of Work at Height: Currently, work at heights is framed within the highest-risk activities worldwide. Between 55% to 60% of fatalities in the construction sector are related to falls at different levels, including falls less than 2 meters high, which could have been avoided if we know the OSHA work-at-height requirements.

We explain in this blog Work at height hazards and safety precautions, Work at height ladder safety, the use of proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and adequate training for its correct use.

People who do not implement Safety of Work at Height or who intend to use PPE without proper training, create a danger to themselves and other people or property. Which is stipulated as a crime and carries criminal consequences. So, in this blog, we are going to describe working at height safety tips in detail.

Safety of work at height and hazards

Accidents caused by falls at different levels continue to be one of the main causes of absenteeism, deaths and irreversible injuries. A lot of tasks are carried out more than 1.8 meters above the ground, on a stable and safe platform, where a small mistake can have fatal consequences. 

Work at height related to a temporary elevated platform such as a scaffolding platform and MEWP (Mobile Elevating Working Platform) and sometimes using a ladder. So in this blog, we describe the risk and Safety of Work at Height of temporary working platforms and ladders also. 

Work at height hazards and safety precautions

Work at height consider as:

  1. Assembly of installations where it is necessary to climb a ladder or surface to access the work area. 
  2. Works where scaffolding has to be used. 
  3. Work where MEWP (Mobile Elevating Working Platform) has to be used.

The main risk of this type of work is falls and falling objects at different levels, but there are also other secondary risks such as:

  • Contacts with electrical appliances
  • Falling objects due to poor housekeeping.
  • Falling objects while being handled.
  • Slip and trip hazards
  • Shocks hit stationary or moving objects
  • Overexertion, improper postures or repetitive movements
  • Exposure to extreme ambient temperatures

Accidents caused by falls from different heights continue to be one of the most frequent problems in construction work. This is due to the lack of knowledge and Safety of Work at Height. The workers are the ones who suffer the most since they are the ones who carry out such a dangerous activity. 

Safety of Work at Height
Safety of Work at Height

Working at heights is considered high risk: for this reason, it is very important to train and make workers aware of the risks to which they are exposed when performing their jobs. It is necessary to use a teaching method in training centres where the worker will learn the dangers and risks to which he is exposed and will be taught the techniques of how to use his special protective equipment for work at height.

It is necessary to use the procedures and regulations that the companies determine as safe at the time of carrying out said activities and that the worker must comply with. If they ignore the information or instructions, they may be sanctioned for non-compliance since this type of accident is considered serious and fatal.

Safety working at heights

Workers must be evaluated before the activities and have a card that indicates that they are fit to perform such work. This information contains data on the worker, how his physical and mental state and how his protective equipment can perform work at height.

Medical tests for physical and psychological to assess whether the workers are in optimal conditions to perform the work. This must be certified by the department of occupational safety and health for approval.

The medical and physical evaluations must be reviewed by the medical department to certify that you are physically and psychologically ready to carry out the activity of working at heights.

The knowledge and training give a guarantee that the workers who carry out this type of work do it correctly since they are exposed to various elements such as wind, rain, high-voltage cables, and scaffolding, where they must apply Safety of Work at Height. Safety of Work at Height to prevent falls.

To avoid accidents in work at height, control measures have been implemented that workers must comply with. 

  • Hazard and risk analysis.
  • Work permits.
  • Review of PPE (harness, lifeline).
  • Technical level training (methods and techniques for working at heights).
  • Procedure
  • Supervision and verification.

Carrying out work at height must be done using its procedures, with the identification of hazards and risks, with work permits, with special personal safety protective equipment and with training based on understanding and methodology.

Working at height safety tips

This implementation is mandatory in all areas where work is done at heights and these must be implemented following guidelines: 

  • It is important to take into account that work at height is considered high-risk work, all measures must be taken to minimize the risks to which the worker is exposed.
  • The implementation according to standards, regulations, and procedures and the use of special protective equipment where work is carried out at heights are mandatory.
  • The worker who performs the activity must review his PPE, which is mandatory to use if it is in perfect working condition, otherwise, he should not use it and must report it to the OHS department.
  • Application of work permits. 
  • Job safety analysis. 
  • Instructions and training in the Safety of Work at Height at a theoretical-practical technical level for those workers who are going to carry out work at height.
  • Training has been implemented that is focused on all workers who have to work at heights, they are given a preparation of knowledge and practices that will make the worker learn preventive and corrective measures when working at heights.
  • This preparation makes the worker become a specialist in working at height applying methods and techniques with the help of special safety protective equipment.

Full body safety harness

Work at height is considered to be all work that must be carried out at a height equal to or greater than 1.80 meters. From that height, the use of the PFAS (Person Fall Arrest System) is mandatory by law. The prevention of occupational risks set the measures necessary to avoid or reduce the risks derived from working at height, which cause accidents and sometimes catastrophic losses.

HARNESS: Designed to distribute the weight of the body in a fall or suspension situation, it is also used to retain the movement of the body before the fall. They must be supplied with packaging, marking and instructions for use.

Safety of Work at Height
Safety of Work at Height

Under normal conditions, it should allow you to work in the most comfortable way possible without compromising the Safety of Work at Height. This implies lightness, but with solidity, and must be accompanied by an ergonomic study in its manufacture.

It must be easy to put on, adjust and keep in position during work, taking into account environmental factors, movements and work postures. 


Work at height ladder safety

The ladder is a portable device consisting of two parallel pieces joined at intervals by rungs and used to raise or lower a person from one level to another. The ladder must be sufficient to offer support for the hands and feet in all the positions in which it must be used, for which, in the event of having to work on it, there must be at least four (4) free steps above the foot position. 

On the other hand, ladders of more than five (6) meters in length will not be used. Fall from height – Risk factors associated with ladders are:

  • Lateral sliding of the head of the ladder (precarious support, poorly located ladder, wind, lateral movement of the user, etc.). 
  • Sliding off the foot of the ladder (lack of non-slip shoes, uneven floor, little inclination, upper support on the wall, etc.).
  • Imbalance when lifting loads or leaning sideways to do a job.
  • Breakage of a rung or upright. 
  • Imbalance when slipping on steps (dirty or greasy steps, inadequate footwear, etc.).
  • The sudden gesture of the user (electric shock, attempt to pick up a falling object, prick with a protruding nail, etc.). 
  • Backwards tilting of a ladder that is too short, installed too vertically.
  • Bad position of the body, hands or feet.
  • Falling objects on other people.
  • Direct or indirect electrical contacts: Using a metal ladder for electrical work or close to electrical conduits.


  • Try not to damage them
  • Do not use them to transport materials
  • Placement of ladders for work.
  • Choosing the place where to install the ladder:
  • Do not place the ladder behind a door that has not previously been closed. It cannot be accidentally opened.
  • Do not place it in a place of passage to avoid any risk of collision with pedestrians or vehicles and in any case mark it or place a person who warns of the circumstance.
  • To climb a ladder you must wear shoes that support your feet well. The soles must be clean of grease, oil or other slippery materials, as they in turn dirty the steps of the ladder itself. You must wear gloves.
  • The ascent and descent of the ladder must always be done facing it, keeping your hands free and using them to go up or down the steps. Any object to be transported must be carried hanging from the body or waist.
  • If the height is more than 1.8 meters from the ground, use a seat belt anchored to a solid and resistant point.
  • Secure the upper and bottom ends of the ladder.
  • In any case, it should only be used by one person to work.
  • Do not work within 5 meters of an HV line and, if necessary, use insulated fibreglass ladders.


  • Loose rungs are poorly assembled, broken, cracked, or improperly replaced by bars or attached with wires or ropes.
  • In the presence of any of the defects described, the ladder must be withdrawn from the site. This must be repaired by specialized personnel or definitively removed.

Mobile elevated work platforms

A Mobile Elevating Working Platform (MEWP) for Personnel is a mobile work team used to move people to a certain work position. This type of machine is normally used for work at height such as maintenance, assembly, repair, inspection or other similar activities.

Safety of Work at Height
Safety of Work at Height

Since we normally find lifting platforms on site, we must take into account a series of recommendations regarding the rules of use, prevention measures and protection of the machine such as articulated or telescopic truck-mounted platforms, self-propelled scissors, articulated or telescopic self-propelled and special towable platforms, among others.

The user of this machine must be an authorized worker and trained in handling.

 Risk related to MEWP

  • Falls to the same level. 
  • It falls at a different level. 
  • Overturning of the equipment. 
  • Fall of materials on people or goods.
  • Blows, shocks or entrapment of the operator or the platform itself against fixed or mobile objects. 
  • Direct or indirect electrical contacts.
  • Fire or explosion.

General prevention measures for to use of MEWP

  • Platform lifts with CE marking and machines equipped with a third party and internal plant inspection stickers and declaration of conformity and instruction manual must be used.
  • It must be used by trained and authorized persons.
  • Use of full body harness to substantial anchorage points at all times.
  • Barricade and post signage around the work areas.
  • Assign a flag man at the time of movement
  • Take a valid permit and attachment such as a job safety analysis.
  • At the beginning of each day, use a checklist that the lifting platform and its controls are in good condition, the state of electrical connections, the state of tires, brakes and batteries, hydraulic circuits, and damage to the cable.
  • Check the possible existence of HV electrical conduits in the vertical of the equipment. Maintain a minimum safety distance, or proceed to cut power while the work in its vicinity continues. 
  • Check the condition and levelling of the support surface of the equipment (outriggers) to avoid the risk of overturning. 
  • Check that the total weight placed on the platform does not exceed the maximum allowable load. 
  • Check that the safety harness of the platform occupants is properly anchored.
  • The maximum speed of movement with the platform occupied will not exceed 0.7 m/s.
  • The platform must not be raised or driven in windy (25 Km/h) or adverse weather conditions.

Are scaffolds safe?

It is important to remember that every worker who works at heights must have their respective individual protective equipment. Once you are at the level where you will do the work, you must anchor yourself to one of the substantial anchorage points with the greatest resistance or support. 

Safety of Work at Height
Safety of Work at Height

The main Safety of Work at Height factor in scaffolding is whether it is safe to work on it. This means that work should only be done on scaffolding installed by trained professionals, under the supervision of competent personnel.

Also, it has been inspected before use. Likewise, each worker must have the correct protective equipment and be well-trained in the hazards and safety of working at height.


  1. Health and safety training
  2. Incident investigation method
  3. Electrical safety hazards
  4. Training for emergency preparedness

Workers working at height must know the Safety of Work at Height regulations for working on scaffolds and ladders. These are essential to prevent accidents and that is why we tell you what they are:

  • Check the scaffolding has the necessary inspection tag
  • Review the condition of each of the scaffolding components before starting the work. This allows the equipment to detect if any of the parts are missing.
  • Make sure that the support surface where the scaffolding will be located is resistant and meets the necessary characteristics. The ground must be stable so that the work can be carried out safely.
  • Before starting the day on the scaffolding you must check the scaffolding, this step is as important as the review of the PPE. For this they can carry out a previous checklist to determine if:
  • The mounts are aligned. 
  • The bases are stable and well-placed.
  • The platforms are well-arranged and suitable for the structures.
  • The accesses are safe and in the correct condition.
  • The anchors are well arranged. 
  • Workers must use adequate personal protection equipment (PPE), taking into account the risks to which they are exposed. Some of the most used are helmets, safety shoes and harnesses.
  • PPE must always be checked before use. The system must be anchored to a safe point.
  • Respect the maximum load of each scaffold. This is established and indicated by the scaffolding inspection tag.
  • Rescue plan

OSHA work at height requirements

Employers must prepare the workplace to prevent employees from falling from elevated platforms, elevated workstations, or falling into holes in the floor and walls. Employers must prepare the workplace to prevent employees from falling from elevated platforms, elevated workstations, or falling into holes in the floor and walls. Additionally, OSHA: 1910.29(b)(1) requires that fall protection be provided when working on hazardous equipment and machinery, regardless of the fall distance.

Employers must:

  • Protect all floor openings that a worker could accidentally enter (using a guardrail and toe board or floor opening cover).
  • Provide a guardrail and toe board around each open-sided elevated platform, floor, or walkway.
  • Regardless of height, if a worker could fall into or onto dangerous machinery or equipment (such as an acid vat or conveyor belt), employers must provide guardrails and toe boards to prevent workers from falling and being injured.
  • Other means of fall protection that may be required on certain jobs include safety harnesses and lanyards, safety nets, stair railings, and handrails.

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3 responses to “Safety of Work at Height”

  1. Taylor abrams Avatar

    I’m glad you mentioned that a harness is used to maintain the mobility of the body before a fall as well as to distribute the weight of the body in a fall or suspension position. My brother who just scored a huge client for his construction firm needs his workers to complete the job at an elevated height which he said is quite scary but doable. I’ll share this article with him so he can prepare the necessary lifting chain equipment and height safety products they can use to complete the project without anyone getting harmed.

  2. Elina Brooks Avatar

    It’s good that you emphasized that workers will be at risk of accidents and injuries if they continue to work with a lack of knowledge when it comes to safety when working at height, which is why it is important to follow procedures and regulations to avoid incidents that can be serious and fatal. I imagine if your construction company needs to remodel a three-story building, it would help to inspect the height safety equipment first before using them to avoid such accidents from happening. I’ll keep this in mind in case I ever need to use height safety equipment in the future.

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