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Learn More About Working at Height

13 / 12 / 2020
Working at Height Insights Article

Mintra partners with industry experts to bring you unique insights and practical guidance on the critical topics affecting you and your sector.

This blog has been compiled in partnership with Stuart Halliday CMIOSH, a chartered safety and health practitioner and offshore medic. Stuart has many years of experience in the oil and gas industry in various roles and in challenging conditions around the world.

Following an HSE accident report, which stated that there were 42,000 falls from height that resulted in non-fatal injuries to UK employees in 2016/17, the Mintra team asked Stuart about attitudes within the industry towards working at height training, his key advice to anyone working at height and his opinion on how the industry can minimise risk.

Have you ever experienced a situation/incident that involved working at height?

During my career, I have seen many incidents involving work at height, from minor dropped object incidents to falls from height resulting in fatal injuries. One that comes to mind is an individual who ducked under a barrier not knowing the hazard that the barrier was there for. He fell through a hole created by a lifted grating. This resulted in significant injuries and an extended period of rehabilitation before being able to return to work.

How could a better understanding of working at height have altered this incident?

Had the team identified the significant hazard of the ropes crossing over a steel edge that had the potential to sever them, they would have insisted on another arrangement. Either edge protection or an A-frame would have prevented this tragic accident.

How does working at height affect your industry in general?

Despite having a mature industry and advanced safety management systems, these incidents do occur from time to time. Due to the nature of work, these falls from height often result in severe injury or death.

What is the general attitude to working at height in your industry?

Because of the likely severity of injury, tolerance for breaches of working at height rules is extremely low and if individuals are found to have wilfully breached these Life Saving rules, they will be subject to disciplinary proceedings. The industry also has a culture of intervention, so when these breaches do occur, they are usually identified and stopped before the situation can escalate.

What advice would you give on working at height to anyone in the industry?

Obey the rules even when people are not watching. Compliant operations are generally safe operations.

What could the industry do to minimise risk of working at height incidents occurring?

Step Change in Safety, Mintra MIST, company training and safe systems of work have already achieved a lot with regards to engaging with the workforce and ensuring that teams have the knowledge, skills and competence required to perform these tasks safely. Developing and nurturing an intervention culture alongside these has led to vast improvement over recent years.

Duty holders and area authorities must ensure that their duty of care obligations and control of work procedures are robust and being complied with. Worksites should be visited prior to, during and after the job. This will allow the opportunity for supervisors and managers to ensure workforce safety. Likewise, the workforce has a duty to ensure it adheres to the safe system of work and report anything unsafe.

How can the Mintra Working at Height course help to minimise incidents?

This could form the foundation stone of work at height training - it's a good start to building employees' knowledge and competence on working at height.

Can you recommend any other online resources or initiatives on working at height such as videos, white papers or communities?

HSE-Work at Height Access and Information Toolkit

Learn more about working at height by completing our accredited online training course.