Safely working at height

Many of the evictions we work on involve the safe removal of protesters who have put themselves in a high, and often precarious, situation.

They might have made a makeshift tower and climbed on that, or got onto the roof of a building, or, frequently, climbed up and made shelters in trees. In virtually every instance, they have placed themselves at risk, partly to make it harder for our team to remove them.

Identifying hazards at height

But remove them we do. The hazards we look out for when planning how to do this include:

  • Injury caused by a fall from height
  • Injury caused by falling objects
  • Injury cause by violence on the part of the protesters, such as weapons and projectiles thrown or dropped from height
  • Environmental hazards on site

Removing protesters at height safely

The objective is to plan and prepare for all eventualities and manage the situation, and not to panic the protesters with unexpected actions which might cause a fall or other injury by their sudden reaction. We operate under a safety-oriented “no surprises” policy.

Here are the ways we ensure everyone’s safety – the protesters’, our operatives’ and anyone else in the vicinity - when working at height:

Training

Training and relevant hands-on experience are essential – all our team are trained and certificated to IRATA level 3 (Industrial Rope Access Trade Association).

PPE and Equipment

Our team use the correct, currently certificated equipment which is checked every time that it is used to enable them to work safely at height, and to safely remove protesters from locations at height: these are not usually rescue operations, since the protesters do not wish to be rescued or removed!

The team always uses personal protective equipment, certified and checked to all the current standards, such as gloves, safety boots and helmets, eye and limb protection, anti-particulate masks and ear defenders.

Communications

Our operatives are also set up for communications with the protesters, usually through mobile phones, plus two-way radio to communicate with the rest of the team on site. Where we can, we prefer to talk the protesters down, rather than remove them.

Specialist equipment

All the specialist climbing equipment our operatives use is checked daily, weekly and before every use and everyone works in a team of at least two people.

Controlled access

We check the area we will be working in and secure it so that no one unauthorised or untrained may enter

First aid

On site we have registered first aiders and carry first aid kits. We ensure that we have identified safe locations where access can be gained by emergency services personnel and vehicles, if required.

Safe descent

When we are ready to remove a protester and lower them to the ground (where this is the only route down), we will ensure they wear a safety harness. If they have their own access lines, we may allow the protesters to use these if they are safe, but always under the direct and close control of our at height team.

Need more information?

If you have a site where you think you may attract protesters – or already have protesters on site – do get in touch and we can advise you on the next steps.