When we refer to Working at Height, the subject covers a whole host of situations or scenarios which involve employees performing work duties which put them at risk of a fall liable to cause personal injury.
Avoid working at height where possible!
The first thing to remember is that it is important always to try to avoid working at height where possible. If you can find a way of doing the same job by avoiding it altogether then the working environment is a much safer place for the person doing the job. By working at height you are exposing yourself or your employees to significant levels of risk. You should conduct a risk assessment, put all of the necessary accident / fall prevention measures and correct equipment in place to prevent an accident from happening.
Working with scaffolding or mobile elevated working platforms (MEWPS)
One of the most well known working at height scenarios is working with scaffolding or mobile elevated working platforms (MEWP). Workers are constantly at risk and as a result scaffolding is one of the most dangerous areas on any site. Fall prevention equipment and correct training is paramount otherwise it may only be a matter of time until a serious accident happens.
The Work at Height Regulations
The Work at Height Regulations 2005 came into force on 6th April 2005. The regulations apply to all work at height where there is a risk of a fall liable to cause personal injury. The regulations place duties on employers, the self-employed, and any person that controls the work of others (for example facilities managers or building owners who may contract others to work at height).
Work at Height (Amendment) Regulations 2007
The Work at Height (Amendment) Regulations 2007 which came into force on 6th April 2007 apply to those who work at height providing instruction or leadership to one or more people engaged in caving or climbing by way of sport, recreation, team building or similar activities.
As part of the Work at Height Regulations, duty holders must ensure:
- all working at height is properly planned and organised
- those involved in work at height are competent
- the risks from working at height are assessed and appropriate work equipment is selected and used
- the risks from fragile surfaces are properly controlled
- equipment for working at height is properly inspected and maintained.
There is a simple hierarchy for managing and selecting equipment for working at height. Duty holders must:
- avoid working at height where they can
- use work equipment or other measures to prevent falls where they cannot avoid work at height; and where they cannot eliminate the risk of a fall, use work equipment or other measures to minimise the distance and consequences of a fall should one occur.
The Regulations include schedules giving requirements for existing places of work and means of access for work at height, collective fall prevention (eg guardrails and working platforms), collective fall arrest (eg nets, airbags etc), personal fall protection (i.e. work restraints, fall arrest and rope access) and ladders.
It’s important not to put yourself or your employees at risk as a result of not providing appropriate training and equipment. If an accident occurs as a result of working at height and you have failed to working at height risk assessment, provide appropriate working at height training and/or equipment then you have neglected your legal responsibilities as an employer and by this time it’s maybe too late.