Avoiding overhead obstructions while working at height
When you work at height, it’s not just obstacles on the ground that can trip you up, it’s the ones above your head too. Without proper planning, overhead obstructions can lead to crushing incidents, electrocution, or entrapment. Consider these few points to keep yourself and others safe while working.
Conduct a risk assessment and make a plan.
All work at height should begin with thorough planning and a risk assessment, including the presence of all obstructions and how to mitigate the risk of collision.
Plan your route to the site to ensure you have sufficient clearance of overhead obstructions. Put extra safety measures in place if needed, such as secondary guarding, and include them in all familiarisation training and safety inspections; they will only be effective if used correctly.
Ensure a clear view.
Workers need to be able to see obstructions to avoid them, and that includes ones overhead and underfoot. Colliding with obstacles on the ground or moving over uneven terrain can cause MEWPs to jerk unexpectedly and potentially into overhead obstructions, trapping or injuring operators. Hence, it is essential to be aware of everything around you when working. Ensure adequate lighting, use groundsmen if necessary and avoid doing anything that has the potential to cause accidents or block your view, such as leaning over guardrails.
Loss of concentration and complacency are some of the biggest causes of accidents at height. Always pay attention to the environment around the MEWP and operate controls with care, moving slowly when close to obstructions. Work tidily and avoid leaving tools on the floor where they can become trip hazards. Also, never put them on the control panel as if they fall, they can jog the controls.
Be ready for accidents.
Accidents can always happen, but you can reduce the potential outcome by having a detailed rescue plan in place, including what to do should a MEWP collide with an overhead obstruction. Make the whole team aware of the procedure should an emergency occur, ensuring that workers have experience using ground controls.
Find out more
IPAF have put together a toolbox talk and Andy Access safety poster that focus on the dangers of overhead obstructions, which are useful resources if you are looking for more information.
We have a range of MEWPs available for hire, including ones perfect for working in awkward areas and around obstacles. We would be happy to help with your job; call us today:
Newcastle: 0191 236 7120
Huntingdon: 01480 891 581