ADVICE & OPINION
WORKING AT HEIGHT
The fi rst FMJ/Barbour EHS regular compliance piece covering
Health and Safety, Environment and Energy, Estates and
Facilities Management; focuses on working from height www.barbour-ehs.com
The main piece of legislation governing work
at height is the Work at Height Regulations
2005. These regulations define work at height
as: ‘work in any place, including a place at or
below ground level, or obtaining access to or
egress from such a place, while at work, except
by a staircase where, if suitable measures were
not taken, a person could fall a distance likely to
cause personal injury’.
Over three million people in the UK
work at height as part of their job.
Over 2,670 employees su ered a
specified (major) injury, as a result
of a fall from height in 2016/17, this
resulted in 25 fatalities.
Ladders are probably the most
used and misused pieces of access
The vast majority of ladder
accidents occur because the ladder
is not secured at the top.
Work at any height can cause injury;
a fall from a height of just one or two
steps can cause serious injury.
Unsuitable access equipment (such
as chairs and tables) can cause serious
accidents even in low risk premises such as
o ices and schools.
It is particularly important to ensure that
contractors working on an organisation’s
premises (for example for roof maintenance or
window cleaning) are properly controlled and do
not work in a dangerous way.
Plan, organise and supervise all work at height.
Ensure employees are appropriately trained in
safe working methods and the equipment to
Make sure all those involved are competent
Assess the risks and ensure that appropriate
work equipment is selected and used correctly.
12 SEPTEMBER 2019
Manage the risks from fragile surfaces, such as
thin roofing materials or skylights.
Inspect and maintain all equipment and
workplaces intended to control the risks of
working at height.
Take account of weather conditions.
Ensure planning includes arrangements for
emergencies and rescue.
Manage risks from falling objects.
HIERARCHY OF RISK CONTROL
Avoid working at height wherever possible by
altering the task or the way it can be carried out.
If this is not reasonably practicable, the next step
is to use equipment or other control measures to
Always consider collective fall prevention
measures, such as edge protection, over personal
protection, such as harnesses.
If the potential for a fall remains, reduce the
likelihood of injury by minimising the distance
to fall or its consequences and always consider
passive protection, such as safety netting, over
active measures, such as having to clip a safety
harness on to a structure.
In lower risk premises, take account of how
storage areas and high shelving or wall displays
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR EMPLOYERS
Determine if the work involves a risk of a fall that
could cause personal injury.
Consider if the work can be avoided by
undertaking it in a di erent way.
If it must be undertaken, determine the
reasonable control measures that need to
Ensure that there is a risk assessment covering
the work activities.
Devise a safe system of work (ideally written
Ensure that all workers are aware of the safe
system of work and are trained in correct use of
the safety equipment provided.
For high risk work, consider a permit-to-work
Ensure that equipment is subject to statutory
inspections at the required frequencies.
Supervise to ensure that the work is completed in
accordance with the safe system of work.
Ensure that all workers are safe and clear of the
work area before closing the job and putting
premises and equipment back in service.
The Work at Height Regulations 2005 (as amended)
apply to all work at height when there is a risk of
a fall liable to cause personal injury. Duties are
placed on employers, the self- employed and
any person who controls the work of others (e.g.
facilities managers or building owners who employ
contractors to work at height).
Where the means of making the work at height
safe involves fixing points, such as eye bolts,
running wires, fixed rail etc, there are legal
requirements under the Li ing Operations and
Li ing Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER) or the
Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations
1998 (PUWER), for them to be subject to be
suitably inspected. In the case where people are
suspended or li ed there are specific requirements
for thorough examinations at no more than six
monthly intervals with inspection records being