The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) will begin a construction inspection campaign on Monday 24 October focusing on safety when working at heights. This two-week campaign will target both small and large construction sites across Ireland.
During this campaign, HSA Inspectors will be providing information and making employers aware of resources available such as the free short on-line courses available on the HSA e-learning portal hsalearning.ie and BeSMART.ie, the online safety management and risk assessment tool which can be used to develop a safety statement, risk assessment or construction stage safety and health plan for this sector.
To ensure a safe working environment employers and self-employed should:
- carry out risk assessments for work at height activities and make sure all work is properly planned, organised and carried out by a competent person,
- plan for work at height activities by risk assessing and using the risk assessment method statement template and guidance available at HSA.ie. Work at height must be properly planned, organised and carried out by a competent person,
- follow the general principles of prevention for managing risks from work at height taking steps to avoid, prevent or reduce risks, and
- choose the right work equipment and select collective measures to prevent falls (such as guard rails and working platforms) before other measures which may only reduce the distance and consequences of a fall (such as nets or airbags), or may only provide fall-arrest through personal protection equipment.
Mark Cullen, Assistant Chief Executive with the HSA said “In 2021 we continued to see a high number of both fatal and serious injury arising from working at height on construction sites. This campaign is highlighting to employers and the self-employed that working at height has added risks and therefore there is a need for extra precaution and advance planning. We urge employers and the self-employed to carry out a risk assessment which includes a careful examination of what harm could be caused from working at height with a view to taking the necessary steps to manage the risks. This may mean avoiding the activity altogether, or, where this is not reasonably practicable, carrying it out in a safe manner using the appropriate work equipment.”
HSA resources for employers and self-employed in the construction sector include:
- www.BeSMART.ie, the HSA’s free online safety management and risk assessment tool
- Guidance on safe working at heights is available on the HSA website at https://www.hsa.ie/eng/Topics/Work_at_Height/
- Free short on-line safety courses are also available on https://hsalearning.ie/
In 2022 the HSA have also launched an advertising campaign ‘Your fall only begins when you hit the ground’ highlighting the dangers of working at height in the construction industry. This media campaign was developed for both online and radio broadcast.