There are many occupations which involve working at height. From climbing up ladders to using scaffolding and platforms, the risks of falling from height are very real indeed. Falls from height account for a large percentage of of accidents in the workplace every year.
The risks involved in working at height mean that it’s important to understand regulations and safety rules. If a workplace regularly needs employees to work in this way, it’s vital to make sure it’s done safely.
Working At Height Regulations 2005
The working at height regulations are there to help prevent serious accidents that can happen due falls in the workplace.
They are aimed at those who control the work of others – people such as facilities managers, construction site managers and even the self-employed. In fact, anybody who might contract others to work at height.
In April 2007, the regulations were amended to cover all those who might engage in any height related activities. This includes teambuilding exercises, or in any other kind of sport or recreational pursuit which can involve operating at height.
An employer must ensure that any work which is to be carried out at height has been properly planned. It should also be fully supervised, and only carried out by those who are fully trained to do it.
Working at Heights Training
If employers require working at height, they must ensure that the employee has received proper working at heights training. It is also the responsibility of the employer to make sure the worker is competent to carry out the task
Where possible, an employer should try to see if the job can be performed without resorting to working at height.
An example might be a long handled implement for cleaning office windows. This would be opposed to needing to use ladders or platforms. If not, the employer must take necessary steps to make the area as safe as possible.
That means making use of protective equipment which would help to prevent falls. This might include safety barriers, guard rails, soft landing strips, nets, hard hats, harnesses etc.
It is a worker’s responsibility to use working at height equipment which has been provided in the correct way. They must also follow training and instructions to the letter.
The only exception to this is where the worker feels the instruction still has the potential to be dangerous. They would would then call for a review of the safety nd procedures until satisfied that the job was safe.
They must also report any specific hazards or faulty or dangerous equipment to their employer.
Working at Height Risk Assessment
An employer must ensure that a proper risk assessment is carried out before any work at height is undertaken.
It’s not just a fall from height at which a person is working that must be considered. A working at heights risk assessment must also consider the risks associated with trips and slips.
The document should take into account what protection is already in place, such as rails and barriers. It should then look at whether that can be improved upon. The risk assessment should be regularly reviewed.
This is double important in areas like construction where the requirements for scaffolding can change on a regular basis.