The ECA Guide to safe working at height.

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1 The ECA Guide to safe working at height. Introduction. Within ECA we are regularly going to require to carry out work at height, whether it s hanging a painting, working on the construction of a large sculpture, measuring a building, setting up lighting or sound equipment, the reality is the same we are going to have to do it at some stage. Gravity is the problem. What goes up, must come down. Safely. This note is intended to help staff and students decide how best to achieve what they want to do without injury to themselves, others, or damage to their work or our buildings and equipment. As with most things in health & safety, planning is key to success. Careful and honest consideration of the risks before starting should help you complete the task safely and successfully. Hierarchy of control / selection of means of working at height. When selecting equipment for work at height, the factors to consider include; the height the activity will take place at, the actual activity does it involve lifting, moving, the use of tools or equipment (sculpture, hanging art work etc), the number of people at risk of a fall, the ground conditions, weather or other such factors, other dangers in the work area such as electrical components or pipework, other fall risks such as balconies or windows etc etc. So clearly an individual hanging one small drawing requiring a small step up will require to consider a very different level of risk from that faced by a group working on a large sculpture installation or stage set. The purpose of the hierarchy of control is to guide your selection process to appropriately balance the level of protection required against the measure of reasonable practicability If for example one were to consider building a scaffold to hang a medium sized painting, the duration of the work at height would be greatly increased, and more people would perhaps be at risk, in addition to manual handling and vehicle risks (delivery of scaffold) to the extent that the risks posed by the scaffolding outweigh the safety benefits they afford whilst hanging the picture.

2 At the other extreme, standing on an office chair with castors greatly increases the risks. Reasonable practicability then, is a balance between all factors, (including cost) against the possible consequences of an accident (Which for Work at height will usually be considered to be serious injury or death). The height, the duration or frequency, the environment and the task will then influence what measures it is reasonably practicable to introduce. The HSE has produced a helpful online selection tool which aids the decision making process when identifying appropriate equipment for work at height. It can be found at: You simply enter the parameters of the planned work and the appropriate equipment options are highlighted along with links to further information. The steps on the Hierarchy: Avoid finding a way of completing a planned task without the need to work at height is the ideal solution. In reality, this is often difficult to achieve, but through planning and design it is often possible to greatly reduce the time spent working at height. Examples in ECA might include: Creating an artwork flat on the ground and then lifting the finished work into its vertical position on completion (e.g large sculptures) constructing artworks in sections at ground level, so limiting the work at height to that of assembly work alone (e.g. the Scott monument was not carved in situ!) Wire up speakers / lighting rigs before raising them into position Use suitable equipment to eliminate the person having to leave the ground (illust.) It must be recognised that the nature of artistic work is such that in many cases such options may hinder the creative process. If this is the case (and if it can be justified) then alternative protective measures should be considered, in line with the hierarchy. Carry out from a safe place Use an existing safe place such as a fixed balcony or walkway with adequate means of protection in place i.e. the balcony of the sculpture court has fixed permanent guardrails, so adjusting lighting or hanging items down from the balcony whilst safely behind this barrier would be preferable to working at height from the sculpture court below. (Structural strength considerations would of course be required for any hanging items)

3 Control using collective and individual fall prevention measures- Scaffolds, fixed guardrails and powered access equipment- The provision of equipment such as scaffolds or working platforms which have adequate guardrails to prevent falls are considered to provide passive protection as they do not require people using them to use a harness, which they may forget / neglect to use. As well as scaffolding and equipment such as mobile elevating platforms (MEWPS) and articulating access equipment (Cherry Pickers), this could also include robust temporary guardrails fitted to provide a safe working area (for example on a roof) to limit access to within a safe area. The design, installation and use of Scaffolding, mobile work equipment or temporary guardrails will require a high level of competence and training to ensure the safety of their installation, use and removal, and as such is likely to be task specific (i.e. for major installations / large works) and should only be considered in conjunction with a specific risk assessment and in consultation with the ECA Health and Safety Officer to ensure the selection of the most appropriate equipment and that the appropriate controls are in place prior to work going ahead. Ladders and low level access solutions: An Introduction Much debate as to the suitability of ladders for work at height has taken place in the period since the regulations were introduced in The fact is that the term Ladder covers a wide range of equipment, which can be used for a wide range of tasks some of which are suitable, others not. When considering a task (Note, one must risk assess the task, not the equipment!) staff and students must bear in mind that no matter how short a duration the task, a fall takes seconds. Ladders generally fall into 2 categories step ladders and leaning ladders. And each has it s own advantages and disadvantages, but whilst ladders do still have whilst ladders do still have their uses, they have in many cases become superseded in recent years by a class of equipment generally referred to as low level access equipment

4 their uses, they have in many cases become superseded in recent years by a class of equipment generally referred to as low level access equipment - a term which covers a wide range of low and medium height platforms which provide a guarded step for one or more people. Such equipment now offers a reasonably practicable and safe solution to a great many of the work at height activities which will routinely arise in the art college environment. Alloy Tower scaffolds Where work is to be carried out at height for any length of time (over ½ day) and there is sufficient floor area available, it is likely to be reasonably practicable to provide a working platform which encompasses a fully guarded and boarded platform. Such access towers are often made of lightweight aluminium components, making them easily transportable, and when fitted with castors, mobile. For students working on large paintings or sculpture works, or other activities where they will be at height for extended periods and/or require to move themselves or equipment freely (i.e. adjusting lighting rigs etc), such platforms will make their work both easier AND safer. The Key safety considerations with such equipment are: Only to be erected and dismantled by competent (PASMA or equivalent) trained persons Observe manufacturers instructions Never move the platform whilst persons are still on it Ensure ground conditions are suitable flat, level and firm (use spreader plates if necessary) Lock castor wheels before use Avoid overhead power lines or other such obstacles Ensure all components are in place and remain in place throughout use. The height of the platform should not exceed 4 times the shortest base dimension Avoid overloading the platform with tools or materials Make sure the trapdoor is closed whilst in use. N.B. Some system scaffolds such as the Turner Access Beta-Guard system incorporate an advanced guardrail system, providing a safer erection process than the Through the trap (3T) system. Those

5 selecting, buying and erecting such equipment should be familiar with the various systems. Further advice is available from the ECA Safety Officer. Podium steps For lower level work, or where the risks involved in the erection of an Alloy tower are not justified, access podiums may provide an appropriate work at height solution, particularly where the user has less need to move around. Such platforms may be appropriate for those hanging work for display, or where carrying out tasks such as painting or sculpture, where there is a need for high levels of focus and concentration which may present risks whilst working on a traditional step ladder Equipment of this type is available in wide range of styles and configurations, both for purchase or hire. Where there is a risk of damage to adjacent surfaces, bumpers can be fitted The Key safety considerations with such equipment are: Only to be used following a suitable risk assessment, and discussions with tutor/ technician Only to be erected by trained persons (if separate components are involved) Observe manufacturers instructions Never move the platform whilst persons are still on it Ensure ground conditions are suitable flat, level and firm (use spreader plates if necessary) Lock castor wheels before use (if fitted) Avoid overhead power lines or other such obstacles Ensure all components are in place and remain in place throughout use. Avoid overloading the platform with tools or materials Make sure the gate (if fitted) is closed whilst in use. Step Ladders. (See also the ECA Belly Button guide to step ladder safety) Step ladders do still have their uses within ECA as a versatile solution to many short duration work at height tasks. Such work would be very short duration (minutes) and non- repetitive tasks i.e.: Hanging an individual or small number of artworks Minor additions or modifications to art works / equipment If repeated actions such as hanging a full exhibition, or making frequent adjustments to a lighting rig are required, the activity should not be considered as being of very short duration, as risk is cumulative.

6 However, we must accept that they are a widely recognised piece of access equipment, used both at home and in industry, and as such, there are many sets in circulation within ECA. Efforts should be made to manage the risks posed by step ladders, particularly to students, through appropriate maintenance and inspection regimes and through providing clear and understandable instructions on their use such as The ECA Belly Button guide to step ladder safety which should be laminated and attached to the top of each step ladder within ECA (available from the ECA H&S Officer) Where the use of Step ladders are justified, they should be used in line with the relevant HSE guidance material: The key points of this guidance are: Make sure ladders are in good condition ties and feet serviceable Do not use domestic rated ladders maintain 3 points of contact Work head on rather than at right angles Do not use top 3 steps use a ladder that is long enough. Consider the ability of the user to complete the task whilst holding on Do not over reach keep your belly button between the stiles! Be aware of other risks ground conditions, overhead lighting etc Leaning ladders. The various work at height equipment discussed above mean it is increasingly rare that a leaning ladder (single or extension) is the most appropriate equipment for the type of uses encountered in the art college environment. Estates and buildings may be more likely to encounter situations where leaning ladders are appropriate, so the equipment may on occasion be seen on site, but this does not mean it should be utilised out of convenience, it s selection and use should only be as a result of a specific risk assessment which justifies it as being the most reasonably practicable measure.

7 For this reason, leaning ladders within ECA should be kept under lock & key control and only used if the need is demonstrated through an appropriate risk assessment. Where the use of leaning ladders are justified, they should be used in line with the guidance in the relevant HSE guidance material: The key points of this guidance are: maintain 3 points of contact Consider the ability of the user to complete the task whilst holding on Do not over reach (belt buckle within the stiles of the ladder) Always foot the ladder (a colleague or a suitably designed and constructed device) Secure the top of the ladder Be aware of other risks -overhead power lines, fragile materials (gutters, asbestos cement etc) easily damaged surfaces Vertical ladders should be placed at an angle of 1:4 (base:height) Where leaning ladders are seen in use (or about to be used) the question should be asked: WHY? Students should not make use of leaning ladders without prior authorisation. Mitigate the distance and consequences of any fall Ropes, Harnesses, Nets & Bean bags etc. In the rare situations where it is not possible to prevent a fall, systems are available to mitigate the consequences, such as nets or soft landing systems, or fall arrest harnesses. The use of such systems require extremely high levels of management control and training, commensurate with the risks involved, and as such are likely to be of a VERY limited nature in ECA, and would require very specific justification through risk assessment in conjunction with the college H&S Officer.

8 Purchasing. Those persons arranging the purchase or hire of equipment for work at height should consider the hierarchy of control before making any purchases, and ask themselves is this the best equipment for the job I want to do? They should also ask if the equipment is sufficiently versatile as to enable other foreseeable tasks to be carried out safely. When selecting a type of access equipment, the final decision making process should include consideration of associated risks (Manual handling, access, training requirements, stability etc) Storage & supervision. The storage and issuing of work equipment should be monitored by staff on a routine basis. Within ECA work at height requires to be assessed (and supervised if being undertaken by students), so access to all work at height equipment should be monitored and where appropriate, controlled by a responsible person (TBC by heads of school) vigilance will be required on the part of all staff to ensure that equipment made available is used appropriately. Work at height is not considered Low Risk, so should not be undertaken out of hours. The use of step ladders, provided they are maintained in good condition, and the safety critical information relating to their use is available to staff and students, should not be problematic. However, some areas (notably ESALA) appear to keep all step ladders secured by technical staff, whilst others (notably Art & Design) have step ladders available in studios for those needing to hang or photograph work etc. This variance of control is at the discretion of the head of the Subject areas, though it should be noted that work at height is not considered Low Risk so should not be undertaken out of hours this information is included in the out of hours information provided to students. Maintenance. Work equipment requires to be examined before use and at appropriate intervals, to ensure that it remains in safe and serviceable condition. Particular note should be paid to: missing or damaged components bent, broken or damaged stiles or rungs missing feet inoperative wheels, castors or brakes missing or damaged horizontal elements of the stepladder A which prevents the legs splaying In addition to inclusion on annual equipment inspection registers, all such equipment should be visually checked routinely, and any faults noted and actioned as appropriate..

9 Old Equipment. There will need to be an initial transition period where older work at height equipment (principally step and leaning ladders) are identified and inspected. Where appropriate due to their construction or condition, some may be removed from circulation. There are a large number of older ladders throughout the various campus buildings. Local safety reps will be crucial in identifying these pieces of equipment and identifying and liaising with their owners / custodians to see that where appropriate they are either removed from site, disposed of or secured out of use until they can be removed. Within ECA it is quite possible that old equipment may periodically be brought in from elsewhere, and staff should remain vigilant to the appearance of any new ladders appearing on campus. Any non ECA owned equipment should be removed. ECA owned equipment should be easy to identify as they will feature a unique identification mark / number and an inspection date, and in the case of step ladders, a belly button sign at the highest point. Where students bring in old ladders (particularly the old fashioned timber and rope style) due to their aesthetic qualities, it should be made clear to them that these are not appropriate for work at height within ECA, and if they are to be used for their intended function at any time (for example during a performance, or integrated into a larger structure), an assessment of their strength and condition should be made in conjunction with a member of staff prior to their use.

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