When you are working at a construction site and some of your colleagues are working up top of a 10 or 20 storey building, what comes into your mind? Most probably you have already felt these two things; One, you feel anxious about these men’s safety. What if one of them fall? Second, you feel scared that an object might come flying from above and will hit you.
A person falling and a person getting hit are both very dangerous and deadly, but are also two preventable things. As the highly sought after speaker and consultant on safety and organisational change topics and author, Mr. Phil La Duke, said, “protecting ourselves from falling object hazards really is a shared responsibility”. Mr. Phil also added that shared responsibility means that supervisors, managers, workers, and bystanders – pedestrians or anyone who is present and are part of the public – play a big role.
So how do you protect yourself if you are below someone who is working at height?
Wear a Hard Hat
Hard hats may not protect your head from getting injured – most especially if the object is heavy and is coming from a great height – but one thing is certain, it can reduce the severity of the injury. It is best to wear hard hats that are compliant with industry standards such as the European Standard EN 397 that specifies physical and performance requirements (including testing) for industrial safety helmets.
Stay Away from Working Below a Worker at Height
It is impossible not to work below someone. However, do try to look for an alternative way to work without staying under a worker above you. This can be done with the help of the management. Identifying ways to ensure both safety and efficiency can be always achieved with proper communication and planning.
Take Signs and Warnings Seriously
It is standard to post warning signages around a construction site and other areas where there is a hazard present. Be precautious and stay away from areas that has signages that says “Men working overhead” or “Scaffolding Incomplete”, etc.
Ensure That They Know You’re There
When you know that nobody is around, you do crazy things. Same as in the industrial areas. Workers can be less careful when they know that nobody is in the vicinity that can be harmed. Inform a fork-truck driver or crane operator that you are below them or around their perimeter.
Ensure that Everything has Harness
If you work above others, ensure to tie off your body as well as heavy objects that may fell. Use an approved and well-fitting harness.
Inspect All Areas
Do not just think about the above but what’s also around your perimeter. A falling object might be caused by another circumstances from the below and the surroundings. It is best to always be alert and to do that, you need to know the possible hazards with proper awareness program conducted by your management.
Also, when you see barriers, it means it is a dangerous area to be in. Do not try to take a short cut and climb those barriers and if ever you see others doing so, better report to your management to inspect the area regularly to ensure that no one can work their way around it.
Communication Is Key
Industrial areas are composed of simultaneous operations. Proper communication between all employees is a must. They need to be aware of the hazards and the harm they can prevent. A close monitoring of daily operations and regular meetings with employees are essential to ensure that safety protocols are inculcated among the team as they are the eyes and ears of each other. If you are an employee, be brave to bring up your concerns to your management to help them enhance the workplace overall safety and yours as well.