Working at height, no matter the weather, can be dangerous. Even in prime weather conditions, with no wind, average temperature, and dry, hazards can occur. Therefore, when the weather makes a turn for the worst, you should prepare. Having the right equipment is a must for guaranteeing your and your workers’ safety.
Here at Altus Safety, your protection matters to us, which is why we provide an extensive range of safety equipment such as fall arrest systems, which we discuss in today’s blog.
As the colder months approach us rapidly, we want to know how weather changes affect fall arrest systems. We’re looking into how various climates affect working from height and what you can do to minimise the risks involved.
What Are the Legal Requirements for Working in Extreme Weather Conditions?
If you work at height, you need to be confident in what you do; however, even the most confident people can have accidents or make mistakes, and the weather changes increase the risks. Let’s take a look at the legal requirements put into place to protect those working at height.
- It’s a requirement by law to consider weather conditions that could affect worker safety. Checking the weather forecast should be included in the planning stages.
- When choosing equipment for the job, workers must consider the weather and how the equipment, such as ladder fall protection, would work in extreme weather conditions such as heavy rain or snow.
- If there are any adverse weather changes, it is a legal requirement to inspect the premises, the equipment and assess the job. Work must cease immediately if weather conditions are found to be unsafe. You must keep a record of these inspections.
The site manager’s responsibility is to ensure that these procedures are put into place, but employees are responsible for identifying potential hazards due to weather conditions.
How Different Weather Conditions Affect Fall Arrest Systems?
Fall arrest systems work using a body holding device and anchor. They arrest and control falls, preventing you from hitting the floor. Whilst they are incredibly reliable, working at height still poses many risks, and the weather could have a severe impact on your safety, whether you’re using a fall arrest system or not.
Snow And Ice
Snow and ice are two of the most dangerous weather conditions to work in, especially at height. The snowfall immediately restricts your vision, preventing you from safely working before it’s even had the chance to settle. Working at height when snow and ice are on the surface is prohibited, so clearing it before beginning is vital. Of course, ice is incredibly slippery and difficult to see, unlike snow. Place grit on the surfaces to reduce the chances of slipping due to not seeing the ice. If it’s particularly icy and you haven’t put the proper preventative measure into place, you may find that your fall arrest system’s locks seize up. It’s essential to use a lubricant such as WD-40 to loosen them up before use, as factors such as seized locks can delay your work.
As is the case with snow, rain restricts your vision immediately, which is extremely dangerous when working at a height. If heavy rain is reported, it should be noted in the report, followed by the immediate cancellation of any work scheduled to be completed until the weather returns to a safe condition. It is vital to keep your fall arrest systems dry, as if they are left wet, rust can form, which leads to corrosion. Your fall arrest system or any of your fall protection equipment cannot be used if they become rusted or corroded, and they must be treated and fixed before you can use them again.
If you are working at height during a heatwave, you must protect yourself with sunglasses, so your vision isn’t compromised, and you should always wear sunscreen. It’s important to take regular breaks to rest out of direct sunlight and drink water, and although your fall protective gear and equipment may be heavy, you must continue to wear and carry everything needed to keep you safe. Our fall arrest systems are lightweight, so rest assured that they won’t be weighing you down while working. Additionally, keep equipment out of direct sunlight to avoid warping and overheating.
Working at height means that you are more exposed to the elements than those on the ground – especially wind. Windproof clothing is essential, but you should try to keep these at lightweight as possible. For example, you should be wearing weatherproof gloves, but they should be thin so you can easily lock and unlock your fall protective equipment when necessary.
What You Can Do to Minimise These Risks
To minimise risks related to weather conditions as much as possible, you must check the weather forecast before working. British weather forecasts are usually available from the Met Office five days in advance. Regularly check this and complete an inspection on the day the work is completed to ensure that all workers and their equipment are safe. Obtaining the proper fall protection equipment is vital for minimising risks related to weather conditions. Whether you need roof edge protection, fall arrest systems as discussed, or anything else, Altus Safety can help you out. We are leading providers of fall protection equipment and are knowledgeable and experienced enough to provide professional advice on which equipment you need for each job.
We hope that this blog has been helpful and has provided you with the knowledge you need to prepare yourself and your workers for safe work practice. If you have any questions or would like to learn more about our products and services, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our friendly team – we are more than happy to help.