Handling Windy Conditions When Working At Height

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When working at height, the power of the wind is an invisible but critical force that can wreak havoc on your scaffolding, equipment and even staff, if not accounted for. It takes much less than gale force winds to pose a risk to your workers when they’re operating at height, and it’s often difficult to gauge the level of danger being posed in a windy situation until you’re actually at the height in question. Establishing best practices for this situation will ensure your worksites remain intact, your workers uninjured, and your equipment operating as it should be.

How can dangerous can the wind be?

While most workplace wind accidents are falls, there are many other ways wind can make a workplace hazardous for the people in it. Winds can cause obscured vision and blow harmful debris into the eye, shift around tripping hazards and cause heavy items to fall onto passing people below. A wind speed of roughly 37 kilometres per hour is enough to cause you to lose your balance, and this doesn’t take into account sudden gusts that can occur on seemingly calm days.

Working safely at height in windy conditions

While weather reports can and should be observed, it can be challenging to know in advance what conditions will be like, as what’s measured on the ground can be different from what’s occurring at height. For this reason, employees should be ready for rough winds to pop up unexpectedly.

All on-site loose materials should be secured, and platforms and other bracing structures and supports tested for stability. When on the job, ensure workers have properly installed harnesses and fall-prevention anchors, as well as eye protection to ensure a clear line of vision.

What about my equipment and the people using it?

Equipment such as cherry pickers can be impacted by windy conditions and it’s important to factor this into your safety equations. Make sure that you only ever use cherry pickers that have been created for outdoor use, and that you never exceed the speed limit stipulated in the machine’s safety guidelines. In addition, avoid operating it between buildings, as it can cause a wind tunnel that could destabilise the machine, Finally, avoid operating your cherry picker on an incline.