Vol. 1, Issue 28 (Jun 05) Work at Height

Came into force in April 2005.

There are several reasons behind the regulations, these are based on the following statistics – taken from the “Health and Safety Executive”.

  • There were 67 Fatal Accidents 2003 /04 – biggest Killer.
  • 384 Major Accidents 2003 /04.
  • Until this year (2005) 2nd biggest cause of major accidents
  • 2/3rds of all major injuries caused by ‘low falls’
  • Patchwork of current legislation i.e. “Construction (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations”, “Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations”, “Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations” and “Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations”.
  • To implement the Temporary Work at Height Directive from EC.

The approach to working at height follows a simple formula

  • Organised and plan (the works and operations)
  • Consider competence (in terms of personnel to complete the works and competence in the planning of the works).
  • Complete your risk assessments – always required – see the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations.
  • Consider whether there are fragile surfaces/falling objects and danger areas – these are to be found in all industries. Place signs as appropriate fixed or temporary, have things in place to prevent falling objects, segregate if the is a potential for a “danger area”.
  • Inspect the work equipment, the ladder, the access equipment, the stairs, the way up and the way down, the edge protection provided, the fall arrest equipment used and the type and frequency maintenance of the equipment.
  • Many of the requirements are placed on various persons in the workplace, this include employers (those who employ personnel – do not forget you may contract works – so these must be considered.
  • Self-employed – these may be contracted.
  • Those in control of people at work, to the extent of their control.

The list is not intended to be exhaustive.

There is a definition of Work at Height –

  • Work in any place from which a person could fall a distance liable to cause personal injury
  • Includes access and egress
  • Includes work below ground level
  • Does not include ‘slip or trip’ on the level

When work is to be completed the following should be considered: –

The weather conditions must not jeopardise health and safety of the intended operations. The works must be properly planned and appropriately supervised; and carried out in a manner which is safe.

When work is required to be completed, the persons completing the works should be competent to do so; they must be trained and supervised by a competent person. Therefore consider training and refresher training ensures that the safety message is provided and understood.

Risk assessments are required, follow a system, avoid work at height, if you do not have to go there do not go there.
Prevent falls from occurring, adopting a sensible and suitable method, i.e. use edge protection on roofs – these provide a safe area for the many and not just for the individuals – there are numbers of simple clamping systems available.

Mitigate the distance and consequences of a fall, this could mean using a harness and line fixed and secured with fall arrest or fall restrain systems.

If you can’t do any of these take other suitable measures consider the effects and causes and complete a risk assessment.

Collective measures must take precedence over personal protection at all stages of hierarchy. Selection of work equipment must take account of:-

  • Working conditions
  • Access and Egress
  • Distance and consequences of a fall
  • Duration and frequency of use
  • Ease of rescue/evacuation
  • Risk of use, installation and removal of equipment

Ladders are not banned; there is a need to think more carefully about why they are being routinely used in many cases.

Requirements for particular work equipment.

Guard rails and toe-boards should be located at many locations and areas; this includes working platforms and scaffolding. You could consider the use of nets, airbags and other collective safe guards for arresting falls that is not part of a personal fall protection system.

There are Work Equipment Schedules that identify detail and should be reviewed as appropriate to your workplace. They cover the following (this list is not meant to be exhaustive): –

Existing places of work

  • Collective prevention including guard rails, etc.
  • Working platforms – mobile elevated work platforms, scaffold, etc.
  • Collective fall arrest – airbags, nets.
  • Personal Fall Protection – rope access / restraint, etc.
  • Ladders, etc.

Do you follow current law and industry good practice?
Do you assess risks, plan the work and act accordingly?
Do you consider avoidance first then prevention and minimise?
Do you consider collective means of protection before personal?
Then you should be able to comply with the proposed Work at Height Regulations.

Work at Height


Wednesday, June 10th, 2009 news