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Train your way to the top

Feb 1, 2020

In a survey by the Building Safety Group, it was found that there has been a 13% rise in the number of ‘Working from Height’ safety breaches on construction sites. This reflects the Health and Safety Executive’s latest statistics, which reveals that of 150 fall from height accidents 40% were due to falls from ladders. With that in mind, Paul Bruton, Product Development Director at WernerCo, discusses the steps employers and health and safety professionals can take to safeguard staff through the means of training and development.

The sad reality is that fatalities and injuries have occurred, and continue to occur, as a result of falls from height. Unfortunately, this can be frequently attributed to the incorrect use of equipment, inadequate supervision, and lack of sufficient tools or training. Nowadays, companies can receive hefty fines for failing to carry out the necessary site assessments and take the relevant precautions to safeguard staff. Ensuring the workforce undergoes sufficient training on current regulations, as well as identifying risks, can significantly offset the danger posed by working at height.

Over the past five years, almost 29,000 injuries have been reported due to a fall from height, with nearly 200 people killed within the workplace. Training is widely available throughout the construction industry to increase skills and output, however this can often be regarded as unnecessary. Many people who work at height think an accident will never happen to them and don’t believe there is a need for training, overlooking the potential risks that can impact not only a business but individual workers.

Ensuring trade professionals receive the necessary information on how to safely work at height is just one of the ways risks can be reduced – it is also vital to determine that employees are competent and using the correct equipment. Often user error and insufficient tools and equipment play a key role in onsite accidents, which is why most training courses cover this topic.

For those reasons, it is crucial for health and safety professionals to ensure thorough employee training is carried out when working in the construction industry. In any workforce where staff are regularly using ladders, it is highly recommended that they undertake the Ladder Association’s accredited ladder training scheme. The course comprises both practical and theoretical assessments, and covers all key bases, including how to correctly erect, use, handle and store ladders, as well as highlighting potential hazards. For those taking the inspector course, delegates can learn how to assess and determine when it is appropriate to inspect a ladder, and how to recommend the correct action if faults are found.

Upon completing the course, upon successful completion, delegates are issued with a Ladder Association certificate, along with an accredited LadderCard. The card can then be used as proof of competency for five years. Certain manufacturers, including WernerCo, host the ladder training courses, which are available to any industry professional. WernerCo holds regular sessions at both its Burton upon Trent and Maldon facilities throughout the year.

Also available from WernerCo is the PASMA accredited Towers for Users Course, designed for those who are responsible for specifying, assembling, dismantling, using, altering, moving and inspecting access towers. Taking place over one day, the course provides both theoretical and practical training on tower legislation; PASMA codes of practice; hazards associated with using mobile access towers; and what should be avoided.

It is crucial that health and safety officials ensure that those working with towers receive their PASMA training. Completion of the course demonstrates capability, and nowadays a vast number of sites will require its workers to be PASMA accredited before carrying out any work where use of a tower is required. The course offered at WernerCo covers a comprehensive range of towers and isn’t specific to one manufacturer. However, it is essential when choosing a tower that it conforms to EN1004:2004 in order to meet minimum safety requirements.

PASMA also offers more advanced training for those working with specific tower builds where standard towers have been modified to meet more complex requirements. The course currently covers cantilevers, towers on stairs and end-linked towers. After the session, delegates are given the opportunity to remain in touch with the manufacturer of the tower for any further advice.

The facts can’t be ignored. Falls from height still remains one of the most common causes of injury in the workplace and continue to occur in the thousands. In order to ensure these numbers continue to decrease, employees and health and safety professionals must work collaboratively to ensure all of the necessary precautions are taken.