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Safety Toolbox Talk on working at height safety

Safety Toolbox Talk on working at height safety
Safety Toolbox Talk on working at height safety

Toolbox Talk on working at height safety

Toolbox talk on Working at height safety must be conducted frequently in construction industries as work at heights activity carries a high risk and majority of deaths worldwide in construction work due to the failure of fall protection measures. Since ninth consecutive year, fall protection has been declared the most cited OHSA violation. Most accidents have occurred due to non-compliance with the fall protection system, dangerous scaffolding, unsafe use of the ladder and lack of fall protection training.
Working at height means that there is a risk of fall from one level to a lower level and may cause physical or personal injury. Most of the deaths are recoded each year in construction work due to the fall from height.
The fatal fall distance is generally considered to be 48 feet, or 4 stories.

Regulations – working at height

According to OSHA, fall prevention and protection must be implemented whenever work on the ground is unavoidable, especially at a height greater than 1.8 m above the reference level.
If a fall occurs from one level to a lower level, it will be considered as work at height. Work at height does not include slipping or tripping at the same level and falls from a permanent staircase.
These are the conditions for declaring work at height
1. If there is work above the ground/floor level and there is a risk of fall.
2. If there is a risk of falling from the edge, the opening, or the fragile surface.
3. If there is a risk of fall from the ground/floor level into an opening or hole.

Hazards – working at height

Here are the main hazards associated with working at height
Height: Vertical distance is one of the hazards associated with working at height and is directly proportional to the consequences/ injury severity.
Types of roofs: Hazards associated with two types of roofs, i.e. fragile roof and slopping/ pitched roofs. The fragile roof means that the roof is not designed to withstand the load of workers and has material strength only to resist the force of weather. A sloping roof means a roof that has an inclination of more than 10 degrees.
Degraded material: Hazard associated with the state of the structure in which the workers work.
Unprotected edge: People working on an unprotected surface.
Inappropriate / unsecured access to the work platform: Includes lack of access, unsecured access, and unstable access.
Bad weather: Rain, wet surface, strong wind, freezing conditions, etc.
Unsecured/loose material on height: loose or unsecured material can fall on people.
Unsafe practices: Throwing equipment from height or creating an obstacle due to piling or improper placement of equipment in the access.
Incompetence: Incompetent people can build the unstable or unsafe work structure can lead to collapse.

Risk - working at height

Falls and falling objects are the main risks associated with working at heights. Due to the high probability and serious consequences such as fatality, working at heights is generally treated as a high-risk activity.
A person who falls from a height can cause death, injury to the neck or spine, multiple fractures, and paralysis.
Dropping objects onto people can cause serious injury such as death, brain damage, paralysis, multiple fractures, etc.

Safe work practices and controls – working at height

1. Try to avoid working at height, if possible, by alternate arrangement. If this is unavoidable, plan and organize work through the work permit system and the JSA. Climatic conditions must be assessed and work at height should not be planned in bad weather. Stop working at height in the rain and strong wind.
2. The scaffold must be certified by a competent person and a valid green label must be displayed near access.
3. Make sure all personal protective equipment used for working at height must be properly certified and inspected before use.
4. Provide fall protection or a guardrail system on the work platform/ unprotected roof. Cover or barricade the openings, holes or pits in the ground or on work platforms.
5. Workers with health problems such as heart disease, high blood pressure, psychosis, epilepsy, or one of these diseases should be considered unfit for working at height.
6. Must wear full body safety harness while working on unprotected edge surface, unprotected roof, unsuitable work area, unprotected work platform, unstable work platform, movable work platform, man basket or cradle and when the work platform is not equipped with a guardrail system. Make sure that the full body harness is always properly anchored / connected. The lifeline must be used to move from one point to another.
7. Ensure adequate and secure access to all work platforms.
8. The area under and around the work at height must be barricaded with warning tape and a causation boards must be displayed to restrict man movement.
9. All hand tools, equipment, and materials necessary for use at height must be properly secured. Be sure to use tool bags to keep tools and secure small tools such as hammers, wrenches, etc. with appropriate means during use.
10. Do not throw any materials, including tools, from a height. Use a rope for safe delivery.
11. Before leaving the work area, make sure there is no loose material on the height work area.

Personal protective Equipment – working at height

Basic PPEs:  Ensure use of Helmet, safety shoes, safety goggles, hand gloves, high visible vest, etc
Special PPEs: Special PPEs like full body safety harness along with anchorage, connectors, lifeline, self-retracting lifeline / lanyard, shock absorber, i.e. shock-absorbing lanyard, snap hook and fall protector or rope Grabs.

Toolbox talk interaction Questionnaires on working at height

1. What is meant by working at height?
2. At what height from reference level, fall protection system require?
3. Does the full body harness help prevent falls or minimize the fall distance?
4. What is meant by ‘lifeline’ and when does it require?
5. What is edge fall protection?
6. Why do you require fall arrester?
7. What is the guardrail system?
9. What is the fetal fall distance?
10. What is the purpose of a full body harness?
11. The full body harness prevents the person from falling. True or false?
12. What are the three fall protection systems?


Working at height is the most dangerous job because it presents a high risk of bodily injury. An appropriate fall prevention and protection system with an adequate risk assessment, work permit, adoption of best practices and competent supervision must be implemented. Edge fall protection and use of full body harness with other accessories can prevent accidents. Record of Toolbox talk on working at height must be maintained.

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