Do you know what is considered work at height?

News & blog » What is working at height?

June 22, 2016

Mike Foster

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On my travels during the past week, I have experienced three separate occasions that made me think ‘That’s an accident waiting to happen’.

Firstly, a waitress stood on a chair to re-focus the projector for a big screen showing of a football match. A barman stood on an empty barrel to help him reach a shelf above his optics. A hotel manager standing on a window ledge to fix a window shutter.

This may be quick and easy, it may be an individual decision beyond any training provided, but is is safe? what is the impact?

So what is considered ‘Work at height’?

Work at height means work in any place where, if precautions were not taken, a person could fall a distance liable to cause personal injury. You are working at height if you:

  • work above ground/floor level
  • could fall from an edge, through an opening or fragile surface or
  • could fall from ground level into an opening in a floor or a hole in the ground

In 2012, HSE reported that 16 people were killed falling from ladders and there were an additional 1146 major injuries due to falls from ladders. If you add the minor injuries and those near misses, often not recorded, then a fall from height is much more common than many of us think.

It is also interesting to note the number of fatalities and major injuries after using a recognised piece of equipment compared to those I mentioned witnessing this week. So is the training of such use or the safety checks of such equipment undertaken as they should?

What do the ‘Working at height Regulations 2005’ say?

  • Regulation 2 – A place is “at height” if a person could fall from it (there is no 2M rule, that you may have heard down the pub!)
  • Regulation 6 – The Employer must do all that is reasonable practical to prevent anyone falling

What are the potential consequences if we do not educate and manage such work?

  • Potential loss of life (as mentioned above)
  • Reputation / Local Gossip / Loss of business
  • Employees laid off
  • Impact on team morale, if cause was something expected of them or overlooked in consideration of their safety
  • Increased insurance premiums
  • Adverse media publicity
  • HSE inspection visit

Further reference about ‘Working at Height’ can be found on the HSE web site by clicking here, but if you are planning to work at height you must:

  • Step 1 Avoid working at height if you can
  • Step 2 Use work equipment or other measures to prevent falls
  • Step 3 Where you cannot eliminate the risk of a fall, use work equipment or other measures to minimise the distance and consequence of a fall. Any equipment should be regularly checked

Please make sure all employees receive information and training as part of their induction and ongoing education that includes working at height (any height)

Contact details

  1. E: info@arrochar-associates.co.uk
  2. Tel: 07968 534034