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Work at height

Working at height is a high risk activity which should be performed in a safe manner. The application of fall protection systems, appropriate training of all participants, proper planning and supervision are crucial to the safety of working at height.

WORK AT HEIGHT

Work at height is any work situation, including access to and exit from a workplace, except by using a permanent staircase, in which a person could fall a distance liable to cause personal injury (e.g. greater than 2 m) if requisite measures such as fall protection etc. are not taken.

PERSONAL FALL PROTECTION SYSTEM

Personal fall protection is a method of fall prevention or fall arrest by using personal fall protection equipment (PFPE) systems or techniques enabling the following: fall prevention, work restraint, work positioning, fall arrest, rescue or rope access / positioning.

1. Work restraint

Work restraint is a PFPE system or technique that restrains a person's access to an area of fall hazard.

2. Work positioning

Work positioning is a PFPE system or technique that holds a person in tension in such a manner to prevent or limit a fall (F < 6 kN, L < 0.6 m). In most of the situations (higher risks – power tools, tension / suspension degree, technology, working hours…), a double – active (primary) and back-up (secondary) – PFPE system is applied.

3. Rope access

Rope access is a PFPE system or technique that holds a person in suspension, where the rope is used as a mean of access. A typical system consists of two independently anchored ropes to which a person is attached by means of devices and a harness (double system – active and back-up). A working rope holds the person in suspension and serves for access (ascent, descent) and work positioning while a safety one is used for fall arrest / to assume the person's weight (so-called limited fall) in case suspension is lost.

The rope access technique differs from all others by the use of a rope, and not a fixed structure, for ascending and descending. Such a specialist activity may be performed by properly trained persons only.

4. Fall arrest

Fall arrest is a PFPE system or technique which, in case of a fall, arrests the person in a manner to prevent hitting a barrier and limits the impact force to below the max. permissible 6 kN.

After falling, the person remains suspended in the system. A rescue operation will be necessary following each arrested fall.

5. Rescue

Rescue assumes a series of activities aimed at bringing the rescued person to a safe zone, in which no fall protection measures are necessary. It is most frequently conducted by applying a suitable PFPE system or techniques that keep the rescued person in suspension, preventing a fall, and lowering that person by means of ropes.

In case of a fall arrest, the suspended / injured person should be moved from such a position as soon as possible to prevent suspension trauma. Suspension trauma (or orthostatic intolerance) assumes a series of bodily reactions to an upright and immovable position that may soon lead to very grave health consequences, lasting damage and even death of the person suspended in such a position. The speed with which symptoms develop and the gravity of the consequences require urgent treatment of the injured person.

Failure to implement safe working methods exposes participants to serious hazards and results in moral, professional and legal liability of the persons responsible. By applying the PFPE systems, providing appropriate training to all participants as well as by work planning and supervision, hazards in work at height are considerably reduced.

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