Every year, accidents involving falls from heights claim many victims. The consequences of these incidents are serious, ranging from sprains to multiple fractures, and even loss of life.

In this article, our experts present the risks associated with falls from heights, identify situations where workers are in the most danger, describe potential consequences of these accidents and, above all, outline the essential techniques and procedures that are necessary to ensure workers' safety.

Risks and consequences of falls from heights

Workers in the construction industry and in other sectors where working at heights is unavoidable need to be aware of the risks and trained in best practices for their own safety.

This combination of awareness and practical knowledge is the first line of defense against falls from heights. Keep reading to learn more.

Major risks associated with falls from heights

There are many major risks associated with falls from heights, including fatal accidents and serious injuries. Construction sites, roofs, ladders, scaffolding and other high structures all present dangers to workers. A simple error of judgment, equipment malfunction or failure to observe safety rules can quickly lead to a fall from heights with devastating consequences.

Consequences of falls from heights

The consequences of falls from heights can be both physical and psychological. In the most tragic cases, these falls can even result in death. Injuries sustained during a fall from heights have an impact not only on the lives of workers, but also on their families, colleagues and the entire professional community.


Work at heights hazards and causes of falls

There are a variety of high-risk situations in which workers are exposed to the dangers of falls from heights. Roofs, ladders, scaffolding or other high structures used in industrial cleaning are work environments that each demand a unique approach to safety.

Main areas of risk

Roofs are an area of high risk for falls from heights. Workers doing commercial roof repairs, installations or inspections face various hazards, especially uneven or slippery surfaces which can lead workers to lose their balance.

Similarly, ladders and scaffolding that are not installed or used correctly can also lead to serious falls. Whether during residential environmental interventions or construction work, it is vital to know the best practices for avoiding fall-related hazards.

Common causes of falls

Several factors can contribute to falls from heights. These include:

• Lack of training: Workers who are not trained in working at heights are more likely to make unwise decisions or misuse personal protective equipment (PPE). Proper training can make employees aware of risks and educate them on how to work safely at heights.

• Inappropriate use of equipment: PPE is designed to prevent falls, but to be effective it has to be used correctly. Improper use of harnesses, ropes and other fall arrest systems and can compromise worker safety.

• Neglecting safety rules: Safety rules exist to protect workers, and failure to follow them can have serious consequences. Ignoring safety protocols, crossing warning lines and taking unnecessary risks greatly increase the chances of falls.

• Lack of organization: Poor planning, lack of coordination between teams and the absence of risk management can lead to dangerous situations at heights. It is very important to organize projects correctly so that workers have the resources they need to work safely at heights. 

Prevention and safety techniques when working at heights

To prioritize worker safety and prevent the risks associated with working at heights, it's essential to follow established prevention and safety techniques.

The six principles of risk prevention when working at heights

1. Identifying risk situations: To minimize risk, you have to identify work situations that are likely to expose workers to falls. By recognizing hazards like physical obstacles, power lines and weather conditions, it is possible to plan tasks accordingly.

2. Preparing for work: By coming prepared for work at heights, workers can spend less time off the ground and make fewer ascents, thereby minimizing the risk of falls. Preparing includes identifying potential hazards in advance.

3. Choosing the right equipment: Choosing the right PPE is fundamental. Different types of PPE, such as harnesses, lanyards and fall arrest systems, are designed for different situations.

4. Equipment inspection: Before each session, workers should thoroughly inspect their PPE for any signs of wear or deterioration.

5. Understanding fall distance: Actual fall distance includes the length of the deployed lanyard, the length of the body below the D-ring, and any deflection of the harness and anchorage system. Workers must take these factors into account and add an extra distance for deceleration, in addition to accommodating individual weight and height measurements. Equipment should be chosen and prepared by a trained professional. 

6. Anchor point selection: Anchor points provide protection when working at heights. They must be strategically positioned and able to withstand a specific force, according to government regulations

Collective Protection Equipment (CPE) and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

To stay safe when working at heights, workers rely on collective protective equipment (CPE) and personal protective equipment (PPE) that are designed specifically to prevent falls.

Collective Protection Equipment (CPE)

Guardrails: Guardrails are one type of collective protection equipment used to prevent falls from heights. Generally installed at a height of between 1 and 1.10 meters along leading edges, they act as a permanent barrier to prevent workers from unintentionally crossing safe boundaries.

Single Access Rolling Platforms: Designed for work at low heights (under 3 meters), these mobile platforms enable workers to access elevated areas in complete safety.

Scaffolding: Scaffolding is equipment that can be temporarily assembled to create workstations at height. It provides safe access to elevated areas so that work can be carried out in complete safety. Only skilled workers with special training can build, dismantle and modify scaffolding.

Aerial work platforms (AWPs): Aerial work platforms are machines used to temporarily lift one or two workers. Also known as mobile elevating work platforms MEWP), they are used to reach areas that are difficult to access such as signs or decorations. Worker training is advised to guarantee safety.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Harnesses: Harnesses are PPE used to prevent falls from heights. A worker wears the harness, which is attached to an anchor point so that if the worker falls, the lanyard attached to the harness will support their weight. Fall arrest harnesses must be used as part of a complete fall arrest system.

Energy absorbers: Energy absorbers are a type of textile webbing used to cushion a fall. They must be replaced after each use. They are mandatory for falls potentially exceeding one meter.

Anchor points: Anchor points are devices that are permanently attached to a structure as part of a complete fall arrest system. A lanyard will be attached to the anchor point and the worker’s harness so that in the event of a fall, the worker will not strike the ground with full impact 

Enviro Urgence values the safety of its employees

Falls from heights are a real hazard that can have serious consequences. With a thorough understanding of relevant risks, workers can take preventive measures and use appropriate protective equipment to prevent accidents and stay safe.

Enviro Urgence is committed to the safety of our workers, and we provide state-of-the-art equipment and regularly reinforce the importance of safe behaviors on-site. Our company helps reduce risks and prevent accidents. A safe working environment makes all the difference.

Whether you want to join our team or contact our experts to engage our services, we are ready to listen!