HSA launches two-week inspection campaign focusing on the dangers of working at height

The HSA has begun a two-week construction inspection campaign highlighting the need for safety when working at heights. The two-week campaign will target both small and large construction sites across Ireland.

To date in 2023 seven people have lost their lives working in the construction sector in Ireland. Of these seven construction fatalities, five related to working at height. Of the 28 work-related fatal incidents in 2022, seven (25%) occurred in Construction.

During the campaign, the HSA will be inspecting construction sites to ensure employers and those self-employed in construction are making sure that:

  • All work at height is properly planned and organised
  • A risk assessment is carried out for all work conducted at height
  • Appropriate work equipment is selected and used
  • People working at a height are competent and trained
  • Equipment used for work at height is properly inspected, maintained and records are available
  • Risks from fragile surfaces are properly controlled

To ensure a safe working environment, employers and self-employed should carry out risk assessments for work at height activities and make sure all work is properly planned, organised, and carried out by a competent person, and that the right work equipment is being used.

Measures should also be put in place to prevent falls (such as scaffolding, guardrails and working platforms), and that the General Principles of Prevention for managing risks from work at height should be followed and steps taken to avoid, prevent or reduce risks. They should also ensure construction workers understand the risks and comply with the safe systems of work.

Eibhlin O’Leary, Programme Manager, Occupational Safety, says: “Falls when working at height continue to result in a high number of both fatal and serious injuries on construction sites. This campaign is highlighting to employers and the self-employed that working at height has added risks and therefore there is a need for additional precaution and advance planning.

“Employers and the self-employed must carry out risk assessments which should include a careful examination of what harm could be caused from working at height with a view to taking the necessary steps to manage the risks.”

HSA Inspectors will be providing information and making employers aware of resources available such as BeSMART.ie the HSA’s free online safety management and risk assessment tool and HSA e-learning portal hsalearning.ie which contains free short on-line courses. Construction workers can also use the free resources.

Guidance on safe working at heights is available on the HSA website at https://www.hsa.ie/eng/Topics/Work_at_Height/ Free short on-line safety courses are also available on https://hsalearning.ie/