What are the employer’s obligations related to working at heights?
Falls from a height are a common cause of accidents, usually severe or fatal. Work at height is a particularly dangerous work that threatens the life and health of employees. Therefore, when working at height, special precautions must be taken due to the high degree of risk to health and life of workers. Working at height means, among other things, working on scaffolding, building structures, ceilings, chimneys, ladders or other elevations at a height of at least 1.0 m above ground level or floor level. Work at height is not work on the surface, regardless of the height at which it is located, if the surface is covered on all sides to a height of at least 1.5 m with full walls or walls with glazed windows, or is equipped with other fixed structures or devices protecting the employee against falling from a height. Only employees who:
- have a valid medical certificate stating that there are no contraindications for working at height. The referral for high-altitude research should contain a clear note about work above or below 3 m
- completed training in health and safety at work and on-the-job training familiarizing them with the specifics of work at height and the hazards at the workplace
- are guaranteed with personal protective equipment and have the ability to use them
- were acquainted with the occupational risk assessment related to the performed work
Due to the classification of works at height to the so-called particularly dangerous work, the employer has a number of obligations aimed at ensuring safe work performance. The most important are:
- ensuring direct supervision of this work by persons designated for this purpose,
- ensuring appropriate means of individual and collective protection,
- providing employees with on-the-job training.
The employer should also remember that, in accordance with the requirements, on surfaces raised above 1.0 m above the floor or ground, where workers may stay in connection with the work performed, or serving as passageways, railings consisting of guard rails at a height of at least 1.1 m and curbs at least 0.15 m high. Work at height should be organized and performed in a way that does not force employees to lean beyond the handrail of the balustrade or the outline of the device on which the employee will be standing. If, due to the type and conditions of work at height, it is impossible to install railings, other effective measures to protect workers against falling from a height, appropriate to the type and conditions of work, should be used. In such a situation, employees are to be provided with the appropriate type of equipment to prevent falls from a height, such as: safety harness with a safety rope attached to the fixed elements of the structure or a safety harness with a hip belt.