There is no getting away from it — working at any height is dangerous. It is as dangerous to work on the roof of a single story residence as it is to work on the top floor of a high rise. A fall from any height can have devastating consequences.
Employers in Minnesota must protect the health and safety of employees, and in doing so, they must provide frequent safety training to maintain awareness of the dangers workers will face in carrying out their various duties. Furthermore, the safety protocols must include regular evaluation of equipment to prevent malfunctions, and if you are a new employee, it might be wise to work with an experienced and responsible employee until you learn the ropes.
What can you do to protect yourself?
Not all employers prioritize employee safety, and it might be wise to adopt a self-protection attitude from the start. Although you will rely on your employer to provide the necessary personal protective equipment, here are some ways by which you can improve your chances of remaining injury free when you have to work at heights:
- Team up with a buddy— Safety authorities often recommend the buddy-system by which workers team up in twos and look out for each other. While working alongside a trusted coworker, this system ensures there is always somebody to call for help in emergencies. However, this will require both of you to know whom to call and what to do in such events.
- Be prepared— Ensure you know exactly what your task entails and which tools would be required — especially if your job is at an elevated level. Avoiding climbing up and down to fetch tools can limit the chances of falling.
- Do not compromise on safety— You are entitled to adequate safety gear and equipment — make sure you get it. This includes a fall harness, a hard hat, safety boots with proper grip, gloves, a sturdy ladder and secure scaffolding. There must be barriers along the edges of roofs and other unprotected fall hazards.
- Do not let anxiety overcome you— If you are one of many people who fear heights, your best option might be to seek counseling to overcome it. The fact is that such fear can put your life in danger along with the lives of co-workers.
- Look after your health — Many people don’t recognize the importance of maintaining healthy habits. Not only will climbing ladders and scaffolds require physical strength, but your safety will also depend on your alertness and your ability to focus. The amount and quality of sleep you get and your eating habits will also play a part in your safety. Lack of sleep causes fatigue that increases the chances of making errors, and an unhealthy diet and dehydration can cause dizziness that may lead to a fall.
- Avoid use of drugs— Illegal drugs or prescription medicines can be mind-altering and are particularly dangerous if you work at heights or with heavy or dangerous equipment. Using illegal substances on the job could result in the loss of your job, and they may even result in the loss of your life.
Even after taking all these precautions, you may suffer an on-the-job injury. This is where the Minnesota workers’ compensation insurance comes into play. The program offers benefits that will cover medical expenses, and if your injury rendered you temporarily unable to return to work, a portion of your average weekly wage will be included as part of the benefits.