What are the regulations around working at height?
If you’re working at height, the regulations to familiarise yourself with are the Work at Height Regulations 2005. They are in place to prevent injuries and deaths occurring as a result of falls from height and outline everything you need to know to stay safe at height.
Do the Regulations apply to me?
The Regulations apply to you if you are an employer or in control of any work from height, whether self-employed, contractor or otherwise.
They apply if you’re if you are carrying out work from any height at which a fall could cause injury. That includes working below ground level or from a place where you could fall through a gap in the flooring.
What do the Regulations cover?
The Regulations outline everything required to work as safely as possible at height, including:
- Organisation and planning
- Avoidance of risk
- Falling objects
- Place of work and means of access or egress
- Use of protective equipment such as guardrails, toe-boards and barriers
- Working at height platforms and plant
- Safeguards for fall protection and arrests such as scaffolding, edge protection and guardrails
- Personal fall protection systems such as harnesses and anchorage
- Use of ladders
- Reports of inspection
- Revocation of instruments
Risk management hierarchy
According to the Regulations, before conducting any work from height, you should follow these three steps:
- Eliminate the risk: Avoid working from height if you can carry out the task from ground level.
- Reduce the risk: Where you do have to work at height, use appropriate equipment to prevent falls and ensure you can carry out the work safely.
- Minimise potential harm: Where you cannot remove the risk, use safety equipment to minimise the fall distance and reduce potential severity in the event of a fall or accident.
How to comply with the Regulations
Reading the Regulations in full will ensure you are fully aware of what is required to remain compliant, but here are a few points to consider:
- Make sure competent people plan, supervise and conduct all work at height – for more information on competence, see our recent blog post.
- Use the right equipment for the job and ensure it is functioning, used correctly and inspected as per the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Use appropriate collective and personal fall protection such as guardrails and harnesses when required and make sure the equipment is not damaged and that inspections are up to date.
- Consider weather conditions and postpone work if bad weather compromises safety.
- Make sure the area is safe before starting work.
- Minimise risks from fragile surfaces.
- Minimise risks of falling objects by keeping areas tidy and putting exclusion zones in place if needed.
- Plan for emergencies and ensure all workers know what to do should an accident occur.
- Ensure all workers understand what their responsibilities are regarding the Regulations, including:
- Reporting all safety hazards and problems with equipment to those in charge; and
- Using the equipment supplied safely and in the way intended as per their training and instruction.
If you are unsure about any aspect of the Regulations or working from height, it is a good idea to consult an expert.
We provide advice, site surveys and training along with work from height platforms and safety equipment so are well placed to answer any questions you may have.
Give us a call or email us today; we would be happy to help.