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Topic 66: Discuss the risks and challenges involved in working at heights.

Oghenekevwe Ovbije's picture

Working at height refers to working at a distance above the ground from which a person could fall or any distance liable to cause personal injury. This includes access and egress except by a staircase in a permanent workplace, work at or below ground level, but does not include slips and trips on the level.


Catriona Ogg's picture

The HSE supplies legislation to help avoid incidents associated with working at heights.  Some of the safety procedures outlined by this legislation are as follows:

  • Any work that is to be carried out at heights must be planned in advanced and outlined in the project execution plan.  The work itself must be carried out by individuals who are signed off and trained to work at heights
  • Individuals who carry out the work must be supplied with the correct safety gear and equipment (harnesses, high visibility vests and hard hats), and this equipment must be inspected regularly to ensure that it is working properly

Furthermore, the project supervisor should take measures to try and avoid putting employees at risk by working at heights where possible.  It is possible that the work that needs to be done could be carried out by machinery instead.   


Michail.Sevasteiadis's picture

I will try to contribute to Ms Catriona's post by adding that except avoiding working at height where is possible, an employer/supervisor should also take proper measures to prevent a possible fall when it can not be avoided, along with eliminating the risks of a fall by taking measures to reduce the distance and the consequences in case it occur.

The legislation obliges the employer to plan and organise work at height properly and also consider any weather condition that could affect workers health and safety. He/she has to employ suitably trained workers, ensure that the specific area is safe and the work equipment is carefully inspected. Finally, he/she has to audit the risks from fragile surfaces there and from falling objects.



Fungisai N Nota's picture

 If we are to say avoid working at heights then what happens
where this can’t be avoided. I believe that it all boils down to good due diligence
and well planned operation with the correct risk assessment carried out this
will lead to the right equipment being used for the right job like scaffolding where
it is needed mechanical lifts and a good working environment. The other is
having the right person do the job as in the scaffolding have the proper people
carry out the job and avoid cutting cost as this will then increase the risk of
working at heights  

Fungisai Nota BEng(Hons) MIET

Oluwatosin A. Oyebade's picture

As the growth in industrialization, global developments and technological innovations continue to grow, the amount of tasks performed at ever increasing heights will continue to soar. As these necessary tasks increase, so do the attached risks.

As Catriona mentioned, various Government and legislative bodies have put legislations in place to minimize accidents. In addition, companies also have set rules and regulations to further reduce injuries and fatalities due to incidents occurring at heights above the ground. A case worth mentioning is that which is practised in Schlumberger Oil services. Any operation carried out at a height above 6ft is considered high risk, and must be performed with a stable ladder, safety helmet and a safety harness. Also, another personnel must remain at the bottom of the ladder, so as to provide assistance and alert emergency authorities immediately an unforeseen incident occurs.

As with all work activities, there is still room or improvement, to further lower risks to ALARP regions. For instance, safety mechanical cranes could be adapted, and ladders phased out. Besides general legislations, all companies should endeavor to go the extra mile to ensure personnel safety is enacted at heights.

Oluwatosin Oyebade

Msc Oil and Gas Engineering

charlesggeorge's picture


person who  working at height need to well trained and should follow the safety
procedures. So that the supervisor or Engineer should take  responsibility
of the workers to do all necessary steps  to do that job. For that they
must ensures the safety of the worker by checking the safety procedure. Only
after checking the system only worker should go to height for the job. And
there is  possibly of accidents can occur from the leading edges of the
building from heights , so that some safety measures has to be taken such
as temporary barriers at the leading edge, birdcage scaffolds, safety nets
and safety harnesses used with running line systems.



Charles George

Msc in Oil and Gas Engg 

Ref : 


farman oladi's picture

Statics in Great Britain shows that an
average of 50 fatality and 8,702 seriously injured have occurred as a consequence
of a fall from height since 2001.  These statics
indicate importance of safety in this field. Employee and employer should
observe regulations for personal protection.

As an employer should identify:

1.  Planned and organised work at height

2.  Risks are assessed

3.  Using competent workers

4.  Appropriate equipment for work at height is provided and
properly inspected and maintained for them.

They should avoid from work at height where
they can avoid. Also, train their workers and aware them from risks in working at height. Enough
knowledge with experience and suitable qualification can made a competence
worker who identifies risks.

ROHIT NAIR's picture

Working at heights is a high-risk job. The chances of injury or
fatality are more when working at heights. So it is necessary to carry out
proper risk assessment before commencing work. Also the personnel working at
such heights should be properly trained. They should be provided with the appropriate
safety equipment like safety harness and safety helmets. Also there should be
safety nets surrounding the working area to assure safety of personnel’s in
case of mishap. But as my friend has already said working at heights should be
avoided as far as possible so that there is no potential risk.

Rohit C Nair
Subsea Engineering
Student id- 51231896

Ike Precious C.'s picture

As Oluwatosin mentioned, growth in industrialization has been driving and will continuously drive the need to perform tasks at greater heights. Also the increasing cost of land space has also driven Technology to take advantage of the heights with little land space they have. The risk inherent with working at heights cannot be avoided but can be reduced.

Laws and REgulations have been introduced to reduce these risks, but it still boils down to one thing, the duty of the worker to protect himself/herself and his/her colleagues at the workplace. 

Companies must invest in training of personnel who work at such heights.

I believe Employers/Companies should also have a standard working procedure with respect to specific heights. 

Also, the integrity of machines used to perform work at heights must be inspected before each work is performed be it Fixed Platforms, Mobile Platforms, Scaffold with Safety Rails.

Tools that will be used to work should be carried in Baskets attached and not carried in the worker's pockets. 

Thank you.

Adejugba Olusola's picture

The main risk from working at heights is fall from height which could lead to injuries such as fractured legs, arms and shoulders or could result in a fatality. Another risk is it could also kill other people by dropped objects from a height.

Guidance for safe working at height is that before working at height, personnel need to ensure that:

·         Wherever possible, a fixed gantry or walkway is used.

·         Check scaffolding or mobile platforms before use

·         Scaffolding must have a valid tag

·         Scaffolding or mobile platforms must also have:

         ·         handrails

         ·         toe boards

·         Check all equipment and safety devices, including:

         ·         safety harness

         ·         fall arrestor, with a maximum lanyard length of 2 metres

         ·         double-action, self-locking snap hooks for every connection.

However, during the work, advice is given:

·         safety harnesses must be worn and fall arrestors connected at all times

·         The fall arrestor must be connected to minimise the fall, overhead is best, with a proper anchor

·         Check for any loose objects

·         Secure all tools and equipment at all times, with 100% tie-off

·         Stop work if weather conditions get worse or assess the task is no longer safe

Adejugba Olusola

Azeezat's picture

 Working at height is really
a problem which can be a dangerous and costly when things go wrong.

One of the issues with working at height is that either the organisation
didn’t follow the regulations (best practice), no good equipment for the staff
working at height like the PPE, staff not properly trained or informed on the
best way  to work at height. Working at
height causes serious injury or fatality due to lack of knowledge or
experience, work not properly planned or the equipment was incorrectly installed
or used.

Duty Holders are responsible under UK legislation for
ensuring that adequate risk assessments are undertaken and that preventative
measures are put in place to ensure the safety of workers at height, generally
by the provision of a Safe System of Work. I believe that there should also be a
moral obligation to ensure workers safety and not to cut corners and risk lives.
It is important that those responsible for health and safety in any organisations
must keep themselves up-to-date on any changes and the best practice. They must
undertake the role with a serious and professional approach.

I would suggest that for anybody working at height there
should be proper processes to be followed to minimise the risk of injury and

William J. Wilson's picture

As an avid rock climber myself I can relate to the dangers of working at height.  I can also inform everyone here that the training I received through the Military was highly informative and one of the key areas highlighted during my MLT courses was that the risk probability of equipment failure was very low compared to the risk of complacency of the individual carrying out the activity.  I have even seen on a few occasions people taking excessive risk on a rock face, believing that they would be safe because they knew it was unsafe (sounds daft but strangely logical).  Reinforcing knowledge and training will remind people who are used to this risk exposure and reduce the likelihood of an incident.  However, I believe that working at heights will always be dangerous because of the mentality of those individuals that the occupation attracts.

Being subjected to risk exposure regularly makes you accustomed to that risk which will induce complacency over time.

William Wilson
MSc Subsea Engineering

Thomas Ighodalo's picture

there are a number of legistlations in place, but how many are actually enforced, i hav been privy to watch from a distance a site worker on the 15th floor of an ungoing construction working happily on a ledge without any harness and totally oblivious of the clear and ever present danger he was subjecting himself too.

this also boils down to the company view on safety, a company with a lax attitude on safety will be more concerned with getting the job down, cutting corners rather than on ensuring that all safety measures are in place. In the order of responsibility the Government legistlation comes first followed by the Company's HSE policy and Finally by the individual applying common sense/good judgement and not putting his/her life at risk, when uncertain about the safety measures put in place.



"Everything we hear is an opinion not a fact"

Working at heights is an extremely risky process. The Work at Height Regulation 2007 should be followed for all work at height. As part of regulation the duty holder should ensure certain regulations such as: risk should be assessed and appropiate equipment should be used, work should be properly planned and organised, equipment for work should be properly inspected. 

Work at height can be controlled by a hierarchy of controls, which start by asking if it can be done from ground. The hierarchy of controls are avoid,prevent and arrest. Some of the safety equipments mainly used used for work at height are safety nets and fall restraints. proper precaution and safety measures should be taken before.

sreehariprabhu's picture

Falls from heights are one of the main reasons for many fatalities and injuries. So it is important to have control measures to prevent this. We can prevent this by carrying out proper risk assessment. This will give an information about how to avoid or control the impact of risk. The most important factor is that we should also include workers when carry out the risk assessment so they can get a good idea and will be aware about the risks.

During working at heights, it should be made sure that the working platform is firm and safe. Gaurdrails must be used if temporary working platforms are not practicable to use. Also workers should be careful about the electric cables and connections and should also take care about not dropping any tools from heights. Proper trained workers must be allowed to work at heights. These measures will help to reduce fatalities and injuries from falling from heights.

ikenna_ekekwe's picture

Although the UK Work at Heights regulation doesn’t categorically state the ‘height’ at which work can be considered to be at ‘height’, it does imply ‘height’ as any distance at which falling would result in damage or personal harm, irrespective of ground level.


Before an employee embarks on working at ‘height’, the prevailing weather condition should be put into consideration especially if the work is to be done outdoors. The employee should also be prepared both in terms of training and in terms of ability. The area should be cleared free from hazards wherever possible and the appropriate precautions should be taken to protect against falling objects or debris. There should also be in place, organisational procedures to cope with the consequences of any fall occurring.

Ekekwe Ikenna


Agba A. Imbuo's picture

The risk of falling from height is prevalent in the oil and gas industry because of the already existence of dangerous working conditions. Working from heights is an extremely risky exercise but the only way to ensure its safe operation is by adequately and properly carrying out a pre-job risk assessment. As my colleague Nota has rightly pointed out, we cannot completely eliminate working at height. the only way to guide against falling when working from heights  is by the use of proper work equipment’s that could prevent fall, carrying out a vivid risk assessment and then the reduction in consequences if it occurs.
The use of PPE’s, safety nets, on- the- job risk assessments and regular training of personnel could minimize the risk to as low as reasonably practicable.


Catriona Ogg's picture

A couple of my classmates have already mentioned that weather conditions need to be considered before any work at heights can be carried out.  To expand a little on this area, taking weather into account on an offshore platform is very important.  Being so exposed to the elements means that they can often experience extremely strong winds such as storm force 10 (beaufort scale: 89-102km/h), or above.  Clearly the walkways on a platform are always at a height so it is not possible to avoid the risk.  In instances of high winds, workers can be banned from certain sides of the platform depending on wind direction, or even banned from going outside at all.  If exposed walkways are to be used then workers must ensure they use both hand rails, tread carefully and be especially careful if they are of small (light) stature.   

Ber_Mar's picture


i couldn't  agree more with you're point, the question is that
climate change, is affecting the way environmental loads are
happening. In most cases they cannot be predicted by regular models.
Either this is true or we start having so many satelite and further
offshore information, that in fact we understand that the previous
models were just to conservative. Nevertheless, one must take into
account the rapidly changing wind wheter is onshore, on a Platform or
FPSO. These rapidly changing wind have high importance, because the
rapid change of effor might generate a fracture event. Wind also
affects wave creation and therefore it's effect is not only related
directly to wind loads, but also combination of wind and high waves,
which on FPSO' s and floating platforms have a major impact on
structure resilience. Therefore further investigation and modelling
needs to be carried.

Catriona Ogg's picture

From what I understand, in instances of extreme weather such as hurricanes, a rig will implement an evacuation plan.  This was the case ahead of hurricane Isaac earlier this year.  In the aftermath of hurricane Katrina several years ago, around 46 structures were destroyed, many of which being around 30 years old.  
  In recent years, structures are being designed to cope better with storm conditions.  In the Gulf of Mexico, for example, platforms are designed against 150 mph winds and 75ft waves[1].  So technology is improving in accordance with the dangerously high winds that you have mentioned.

  With regards to your concerns about modelling, I understand that satellites are used to monitor the weather at present, but there is always going to be a degree of inaccuracy when it comes to predicting wind speeds, which as you have pointed out makes it hard to model against them.  At present the 100 year wave is used as 'worst case' when designing a structure offshore.  Interestingly the height of this wave have been steadily increasing over the decades, so in accordance with the climate change perhaps this value is set to increase further over the coming years.


Savitha Haneef's picture

As per HSE, work at height is the biggest single cause of fatal and serious injury in the construction industry,particularly on smaller projects.Over 60% of deaths at work is from falls from ladders , scaffolding or through fragile roofs.In most cases poor planning and management control is found to be the underlying cause. I would like like to expand on working at fragile surfaces.While working at fragile surfaces,the employer should ensure that no worker passes across or work from such surfaces unless it is reasonably practical to work safely and under proper ergonomics condition.There should be additional platform or support in case of any unforesseable load.They should be provided with guard rails or coverings to prevent them from falling through the materials.Prominent warning notices should be affixed at the approach to the place.

Savitha Haneef

MSC Safety & Reliability Engineering

Ber_Mar's picture

Savitah my previous experience is in construction. I have worked 4 years on the rehabilitation of an old Power Plant. This brought even more problems as some areas loked quite robust, but in fact they were very fragile. This meant thant constant attention had to be given to scafolding fixation point, available routes for workers to travel. And most of the times procedures wouldnt be followed because some areas appeared safe, therefore in this cases is very hard to explain and make workers adhere to required procedures. Another problem posed at the time was that visitors of the museum (the old power plant was converted into a museum), were walking bellow of the areas were works were being carried out. To minimize the risk, protection were put in place, but since the visitors were mainly kids and could change area quickly for the most risky activities, after a risk assesment it was decided to stop most risky operations when visitors were directly bellow workers working on heights. Not only we had to concern the safety of workers but also visitors, in the end 100% security was achieved, with 0 incidents, only possible due to a strong commitment by the contractor team, client, museum guides, security gards and HSE team. Just to get to the point that think old boilers metal ones, correded during 50 years where a black spot, but i spoted 2 or 3 times workers there, saying it was safee. If it looks safe, it doesnt mean it is... but it is hard to get this across

t01sik12's picture

Falling from height is one way to hurt your loved ones. Ones you’re not physical fit you would not just feel the pains alone but also your loved ones. Personnel who is responsible for working from height should be competent enough to inspect fall protection equipment, use of fall protection equipment &  construct, put in place, or inspect temporary work platforms.  Safety harnesses are used to minimize the effect of a fall if it occurs. Obviously, they are only effective if they are worn, and are attached to an anchor via a lanyard or some other device. The harness should be comfortable to work in .  There are various hazards involved with working from height. Examples are : Wind , Access, Over reaching , Slipping or tripping , obstruction , wet or frosty condition , Harsh sunlight , Falling objects , Guard rail & nearby workers.  

Responsible persons have potential to encounter one of these hazards mentioned above and therefore are expected to be qualified or trained. However, prior to start of operation ensure you Step back, Access work area , Evaluate , Think and Act.



Samuel Kanu

Msc Subsea Engineering

Etienne Gunter's picture

I think one of the biggest pitfals involving this type of work is employees underestimating the risks. The philosophy of “I’m just quickly going up there….”  and that is just where the problem start. Just like with diving, a supervisor or team leader should be appointed to co-ordinate and plan the work. He/she must do an assessment of the area and plan accordingly. Furthermore, my gut feeling is that a lot of these accidents happen to people who are not professionally qualified to work at heights. Managers cut corners to save costs instead of contracting a professional to conduct the work.

To illustrate my point, read the article posted on the HSE website, dated 5 Dec 2012

When working at heights, people are exposed to numerous circumstances that may cause them to fall which would be very dangerous and potentially fatal. I have outlined some safety considerations and recommendations that enable safety while working at heights as follows:
I. Properly asses the state of the working surface for example, is the surface uneven, or are its edges unprotected
II. Monitor the overlying weather conditions may be a source of exposure to risk for e.g. heavy rain or snow
III. It is also important to consider the number of people who may be exposed to the risk as well as the training and experience of each bearing in mind that more experienced workers tend to handle themselves better.
IV. The location of the area and location of access routes are also a source for consideration
V. Carefully examine and review scheduling of the work ensuring that work is scheduled for periods of good visibility and favourable weather.
VI. Critically assess the capability of the surface to support the load to prevent collapse of the surface.
VII. Ensure that overlying objects are being properly supported and the risk of them falling is completely eliminated.
VIII. Ensure that ladders and other equipments to be used are properly assembled and used correctly.
IX. Minimize events of sudden acceleration or deceleration and pay complete attention when moving from one surface to another.
X. Workers must ensure that they have the recommended types of footwear and do their best to have good grip at all times
XI. Ensure work area is clear and unobstructed. Equipments, tools and other rubbish should be safely kept away from work areas.
XII. It is important that workers wear the right type of clothing to prevent clothes getting stuck and being a source of instability.
XIII. Workers must make sure they adhere to safe working practices and restrain from consuming substances that may affect stability or general concentration.
Kuma Mede

Kyle McFarlane's picture

As pointed out by a number of my collegues working at height is one of the largest high incident area in construction. 

As I have stated in previous posts I worked as a Scaffolding labourer and have worked at heights over 198 ft.  

It is my opinion that the high rate of incidents in this region is due to safety culture rather than the methods used although there will of course be excpetions to this. 

In my experience (working with one particular company) the safety equipment and regulations were extensive and made all of the jobs much safer.


Scaffold tags were fixed to all structures to ensure that workers knew whether or not the scaffold was safe  to be used. All scaffolders were supplied with harnesses and given inertia reels when the job was particularly hazardous. 

 The scaffolders were also taken through extensive programmes to ensure they were competent to work at height, SG410 is a prime example of this. 

The scaffolding material used was of very high quality to further minimise risks.

Safety officers also had extensive training, supervisors were previously scaffolders so they knew and understood jobs being undertaken. 


Although all of the steps this company took that  I have outlined above are very expensive to implement the point is that they save lives and effectively mitigate many of the risks assocssicated with working at height. If it is possible for one company to do so it should be possible for even smaller companies to do the same, if perhaps not quite as extensively.


The point I am making is that the infastructure to make these acts safe is there, adopting the correct safety culture in unison with applying prevenitive steps like I outlined ensure that workers are safe and apprroach tasks safely  I feel it is a combination of the two that is required to make working at height as safe as possible 

“Falls from heights is the biggest cause of workplace death
and one of the main causes of major injury” (HSE, 2006)

Working at height is required in numerous circumstances and
is unavoidable. Numerous considerations need to be applied when working heights
and therefore make the places a large emphasis on good design. The biggest
challenge is the correct design and planning of works at height. Good design
will take into consideration the correct equipment to use in terms of carrying
loads imposed and the easy access to required areas of works.  Inspection of equipment  is vital as to the condition during use will
change and ensure no defaults have occurred . 

The risks of death and injury from falling objects will
increase in bad weather conditions. 
Offshore where there worker at height will be exposed to the elements
especially high winds and threat of harm is greater



HSE’s Falls from height website:

James Parry
MSc Subsea Engineering

Siwei Kang's picture

As most of my classmates mentioned above, working at height is not only one of the most dangerous acticivity in Oil & Gas, but in many other industries, like wind farm, construction. But as ikenna_ekekwe said, what height is high? How to avoid or lower the accident occurence?

In China, anywhere above the reference plane 2 m is referred to working at height. It is classified as four levels. 2-5 meters is categorized as first stage operation, 5-15 meters is second stage, 15-30 meters is thrid stage and above 30 meters is the top stage. How to deal with the danger of working at height? Many measurements have already mentioned by my classmates, but I think the most effective way is well training to workers and strict regulation to companies. It is found that lack of awareness in safety protection is the commom cause in accidents. building safety awareness can be achieved through well training. But some companies would not like to invest money in this because of it is money spending without direct benefit. Moreover, bad weather condition normally has significantly influence to working at height. But some companies may ignore the danger of this when there is conflict between safety and schedule. They normally prefer to gamble the risk. Therefore, I personally think only strict monitor procedure, like approving by governmental organization before height operation, can solve this problem.

 Anyway, working at height without appropriate protection is quite dangerous. But if different regulations based on distinctive classification of height are created and monitored strictly, it would be helpful to reduce the accident rate of working at height.




YAKUBU ABUBAKAR 51126107's picture

I agree with you Kang Sewei there a   lot of
challenges and risk associated with working at height especially when safety
procedure is neglected.

Anybody working at a height above 2 meters would require putting
safety measure in place to make it safe. The use of protection such as correct
PPE helmet, gloves, eye glasses, hook belt, safety boots among others is quite
essential and importance.

The use of scaffolding and crane lift are the most obvious
equipment use especially on onshore operations either in building construction
or manufacturing to mention a few.

I have a personal experience of working at height which was
very scary and difficult; I was actually involved in a complete overhaul of large
size industrial diesel engine with its exhaust at a height well above 30 meters
with little support. I use a lift crane but I realise that as I got to the
height well above the whole arrangement was shaking and it was a windy at a
time as well which makes everything even worse, I have to pull down and make some
adjustment to balance it well before doing the job. Because it almost turns
over the crane lift and it could have been a serious accident.

I recommend that before carrying out any job at
height obtained a permit to work first

Make sure your scaffolding was well constructed
and balance or lift crane as the case may be.

Your well kitted with proper PPE

Make sure you don’t look down as your clamming
up in case you have a height phobia (Acrophobia).

Yakubu Abubakar

Msc oil and gas Engr.

Edwin Lawrance's picture

Hello Siwei Kang,

From the previous post it is clear that in some places
working heights are classified in to several stages, so is there any special regulations
applied for these stages as we go up.

One more thing that is confusing me, from all the above
posts it is clear that the person working at heights must be well trained and
proper safety measures must be taken by the operator or supervisor, but what
about the fellow workers who work below. Will this affect them? Working in
heights with tools and stuffs like that, if someone loses these heavy objects
this can injure the people below. Think if this happens in a populated area, it
can cause serious issues. In Aberdeen itself sometimes if we walk through the
streets we can see people using hammer and drills to fix windows on buildings,
even if they are providing a separate path for pedestrians is that safe? In my
opinion safety measures applies both to the worker and the people around him,
if we are dealing with heights.

Marinos Ioannou's picture


I feel that a lot of hazards
situations can appear any minute while working at heights. I also agree with
the colleague that refers to the HSE legislation about these types of working
situations. All the rules must be followed because at anytime the worker can be
exposed to a danger. I recently watched a video with the most crazy job ever
(in my opinion), when two guys, work on Guided Tower. This tower is 1768 feet
and it is higher that the Empire State building. The problem is that to reach
the very top of the tower, with an area of less that 1square meter, you need to
climb. Actually there is an elevator in the tower, but it can only reach a
specific height. Then everything is done by climbing!!! If you watch the video
I am sure that you will feel dizzy, so there is the link: 


Marinos Ioannou

Omololu Oyebola's picture

This is a very good topic as over half of offshore installations work involves working at height. Working at height inevitable and as such, I personally feel instead of talking about the act, preventive measures to reduce injury is worth emphasizing on. The following are risk control measures that can be adopted to reduce accidents

Adopt the use of edge protection systems and fall protection covers: These are barriers erected on the edge of a structure. They include guard rails to support working platforms, stairways, ramps and landings

Adopt the use of fall protection cover: Fall protection covers are a protective structure placed over holes and openings to prevent falls. All holes and openings through which a person can fall must have fall protection covers in place. This should be able to accommodate the impact of the person falling on it, solid sheeting or mesh are sometimes used for this purpose

Adopt Personal fall protection equipment: Systems that secure a person to a structure are known as personal fall protection equipment. It helps minimize the risk of a person falling from a height and reduces injury a person will sustain if the person falls (fall –arrest systems)

A critical evaluation of the work to be done should be carried out, a job safety assessment properly fletched.

Safety harnesses are important but they should be the last gasp hope of surviving.  

Abdulazeez Bello's picture

summarising the challenges associated with working at a height, it is a safety
concern in the industry that any job carried out above 6 feet from the ground
level requires scaffolding or crane-lift with all safety gears in place. These
also include personal protective equipment (PPE) and headgear.
Working at height can’t be avoided what is needed is proper risk assessment of
the surrounding area to prevent objects or equipment from falling. The work
location is also supposed to be coned off using tapes to prevent accidents. The
weather and visibility of the area matters and should be checked out.
Accident associated with working at a height is on the increase this can be
attributed to the installation and maintenance of solar panels on roof tops by
people who are not trained nor have the required capacity to do the job [1].


Oghenekevwe Ovbije's picture

Working at heights can be encountered in different levels of operation from domestic activities like painting to construction and other industry activities. It poses a lot of danger to the personnel’s involved because it can lead to fatal accident (death) and severe injuries.

Generally, operations that require working at heights should be avoided or thoroughly evaluated to identify the risks and set out control measures. A few control measures are listed below [1]:
•Only competent personnel’s should be allowed to work at heights
•Use of appropriate Personal Protective Equipments (PPE) and other work equipments like harness, ladders, access equipments, mobile elevated platforms and scaffold towers that will help prevent falls where working at heights cannot be avoided must be used at all times.
•If the risk cannot be eliminated work equipments can also be used to minimise the distance and the consequences if a fall should occur.
•Inspect equipments before use

In a situation where control measures have been put in place, someone should be assigned to be on standby.

[1] QBE Issurance Issues Forum. Working at Heights. 2006:3-6.

Tilak Suresh Kumar's picture

Preventing injuries from work at height requires a practical approach, based on sound knowledge of regulations that are designed to keep people safe and healthy in the workplace.

Working at height is defined as work in any place from which, if measures were not taken, a person could fall a distance liable to cause personal injury. Accidents typically happen where people don’t recognise the risks they face, or are stuck in a behavioural rut and need re-educating, or adopt an 'It’ll never happen to me' attitude.

UK and European companies and employers must comply with the Work at Height Directive, which says they must assess the risks associated with working at height, including the possibility of people and objects falling. To mitigate against those risks, methods of protection that rely on mechanical and physical processes, rather than personal protective equipment (PPE), such as safety harnesses, should be used. Regulations also state that training for operatives working at height should be carried out, materials and machinery inspected, PPE provided and scaffolding and platforms put in place where work at height takes place.

One fundamental area in the regulations is rescue of people from falling, and it’s this section that is most misunderstood and the least adhered to across the UK and Europe.

Kelvin Arazu's picture

Falls from height are the major risk involved in working at height, the common causes of fall from height includes:

overreaching or over balancing;

Climbing with loads;

using inappropriate equipment  such as desks /chairs;

not securely fixing access equipment;

placing access equipment on unsuitable surfaces;

falls from roofs with unprotected edges;

Falls through fragile materials.

Mitigating this accident from the work place, I would recommend that the following safety procedures should be applied:

Ensure that all work at height is properly planned and organised;

those involved in work at height are competent;

the risks from work at height are assessed and appropriate work equipment is selected and used;

the risks from fragile surfaces are properly controlled; and

equipment for work at height is properly inspected and maintained

Finally as along as man continues to improve technologically, working at height is inevitable so we have to make it safe.

Akuromawaye Apiambo's picture


Work at height involves
the use of:

  •  Ladders, step-ladders, steps
  • Travelling, ground or suspension scaffolds

  • Ropes and harnesses
  • Platform
  • Mobile elevating work platform (MEWP)

There are many hazard associated with work at elevated locations such
as  fall of person and fall of object;
partial or complete collapse of scaffold; tripping and electric shock due to
wire at height.

Work at height cannot be excluded in the cause of work in the
construction industries, oil and gas industries or in some repair works, so
Safety is the key word in ameliorating the risk and challenges involved in
working at heights . It is essential that respective precautions and
compensatory measures put in place in the cause of work at height.

Apiambo, Akuro


Ojo Oluwayimika Joseph's picture

With technological advancements in the energy industry today and the never ending quest to achieve incredible fits, it is almost impossible not to perform tasks at pretty extreme heights.  Accidents that could occur as a result of a fall could range from minor sprains to fractured bones in undesirable areas of the body and in extreme fatal cases, death! Operators in the Oil and Gas industry understand the risks associated with working at steep heights and standard safety regulations are always in place in standard working environments for workers. Such include wearing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) such as hard hats in this case. Also, some employers may find it necessary to have in place multiple ‘rescue kits’ cached in key locations in order to ensure that rescuers have access to the equipment they need within a few minutes of any work location. References

Loui H. McCurley, PrePlanning For Rescue At Height:The Next Step In Your Managed Fall Protection Program

Ojo Oluwayimika JosephOil and Gas Engineering

Richard Milne's picture

Good morning guys,

Within the last year of my employment, I have seen a few instances of people working at height and been informed of the processes that we go through to ensure that they are safe.

If anyone is to climb a structure, or go out onto an area which does not have a barrier to prevent a fall, then they must have a full body harness (like would be used for recreational climbing) and should be DOUBLE clipped onto any structure to ensure that if they fall while moving between foot holds, they have at least one fall arrestor. We have also gone as far as to provide all our workers who are working at height with friction reels (which arrest the fall gradually to stop the sudden jerking motion).

We also make sure that if a scaffolding is being used, we have sufficiently trained people to erect it and the scaffolding itself must be fitted with valid 'scaff tags' to show who it was built by, and when. If the scaff tags are not present, all personnel are under strict instructions not to climb the scaffolding.

ALthough working at height still represents a very real risk, all of these mitigations have decreased the number of incidents, but can only do so with constant vigilance against the dangers.

I appreciate the
points that my colleagues have made on this topic but another dimension to issue
of working at height is DROPPED OBJECTS. This situation put others who may or
may not be part of the operation at risk.

To prevent such occurrence,
one must assess the risk involved in every activity that would take place in an
elevated platform, not just from the position of the worker above but also
those below. It would be helpful if the area below is isolated with only
authorised entry.  Also adequate lifting
equipments must be used and tested alongside PPEs to identify flaws.

Richard Milne's picture


I agree with you that dropped objects are a very dangerous occurence. You have correctly identified the best precaution against this, setting up barriers to stop people being in the 'drop zone.'

I also feel that having tool on a friction reel, attached to the workers belt can be a useful prevention. This means that even if the tool is dropped, it remains attached to the worker (assuming the tool isn't too heavy). This would also prevent the worker 'loosing' the tool on a ledge, or other surface at height, which could then fall down at a later date and injure someone who is totally unaware.

Again, I feel that one of the best measures for safety is always going to be awareness of the hazard, and ensuring that people know of the dangers of certain operations.

Mohamed H. Metwally's picture


rules pertaining to working at heights need to be a little bit rationalized...

In BP standards, the scaffold has
to have a 2 m high handrail which is good and fine; however after building such
a scaffold the scaffolder has to wear harness no matter how high the scaffold
is....which is too exaggerated. Do you agree with me?


Bassey Kufre Peter's picture

Friends,it is paramount for us to know what height is considered risky in carrying out a given activity,I know that in China,from 2 meters and above,the Heightlegislation take its full effect.Can you imagine a man on the top of a 10 meters derrick on an FPSO without a live jacket.Operators should always adhere to the safety requirement for a particular height in carrying out any given activities at such height. HSE guidelines on height risk should be fully followed when working with height that requires its implementation. This will help to reduce the fatalities due to such incident for example if an object drops from such a height.

Bassey, Kufre Peter
M.Sc-Subsea Engineering-2012/2013
University of Aberdeen.

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