How to complete a Working at Height Risk AssessmentOctober 09, 2018
Risk assessments are common in the workplace; in fact, they’re required under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and therefore an essential part of your health and safety procedure. They enable you to identify and minimise potential risks to employees, contractors, visitors, and passers-by; anyone who interacts with your business. When it comes to working at height, the Work at Height Regulations 2005 state that you must “ensure that work at height is properly planned, appropriately supervised and carried out in a manner which is so far as is reasonably practicable safe”, and the risk assessment is a big part of this.
What’s involved in a risk assessment?
There are a few stages to completing a risk assessment, which are as follows:
- Identify all potential hazards
- Determine who may be at risk and how
- Identify precautions you can put in place to minimise the risk
- Record all your findings in a risk assessment template and put precautions in place
- Review and update regularly and as necessary
When identifying potential hazards, observe your workplace, speak to employees and those conducting the work, consult manufacturer’s guidelines, manuals and datasheets and think about previous accidents and injuries; they will provide you with ideas and a good starting point.
Consider the working environment, for example, the ground conditions, overhead and underfoot obstructions, and fragile surfaces. Types of hazards could include slips, trips, and falls because of obstructions or slippery floors and crushing or injury due to equipment toppling on unstable ground. Other hazards may include things like:
- Interactions between people and vehicles when accessing or exiting the work site
- Access or safety equipment malfunctioning because of lack of maintenance or incorrect usage
- Injuries as a result of being hit by falling objects
Who’s at risk?
The obvious one here is the people carrying out the work from height, but they are not the only ones you need to consider. Anyone that has access to the site could encounter equipment while in transit to the working area, for example, or, be hit by falling objects, so they need to be considered in your risk assessment. And that includes the general public if they will be near your work area.
Work through your list of risks and think about each one individually – what could you do to minimise the chance of something going wrong? Some examples may include:
- Using long-reach tools to remove the need for working at height.
- Training employees and conducting familiarisations to ensure workers know how to operate equipment correctly and safely.
- Installing guardrails or using other safety equipment to minimise the chance, and potential consequences, of a fall.
- Inspecting all access and safety equipment before use to ensure it is safe to use.
- Keeping work areas tidy and putting tools and equipment away to minimise the chance of slips, trips, and falls.
- Blocking off the area below the work from height to minimise risks from falling objects.
Record your findings
It is not enough to think about risks; you must keep a written record. Use a risk assessment template to record everything and make sure you include details such as the date and the name of the person who completed/checked the risk assessment. This not only acts as proof to regulators that you are adhering to health and safety guidelines but also ensures everyone involved has access to the risk assessment and is thus aware of the risks and how to minimise them.
Review your risk assessment
Risk assessments are not static; you don’t just do them once and forget about them. In fact, they should be reviewed on a regular basis and updated as and when they need to be. For example, if new hazards present themselves or if conditions change. The risks associated with working at height will vary with every job, so make a new risk assessment for each new job to ensure you are covering everything you need to be.
If you need further advice on risks associated with work from height and assistance with planning, training or equipment, our experts are on hand to help – contact us today to find out what we can do for you.