When most people think of "working at height", they might picture construction workers high on scaffolding or window cleaners up ladders. Of course these situations do count but the true definition is far broader than that.
The Work at Height Regulations 2005 (WAHR) are the main piece of British legislation around this subject. They state that work that takes place "at or below ground level" is covered by the laws just as much as above ground work at height. In fact, any task where a fall might cause an injury comes under the remit of the WAHR.
What Counts as Working at Height, at or below Ground Level?
When considering the definition of working at height as "anything involving a potential fall liable to lead to personal injury", it's clear it covers many projects that might take place below ground.
Working across and around trenches or in open inspection pits are just a couple of examples. A fall into a well, for instance, could potentially cause serious injuries, just in the same way as a fall from scaffolding to the ground could. In law and in terms of an employer's duty of care to its workers, both sorts of situation should be considered with the same level of seriousness.
Last year, a council had been found guilty and fined for failing to manage and control the risk of persons falling into vehicle inspection pits at their Service Centre. A woman was seriously injured when she fell into an inspection pit and struck her head while work was carried out on the premises. This case illustrates the importance of keeping workers and the public safe from falls from height, whether they take place above or below ground level.
If there is a hole on site, it needs to be cordoned off, preferably with sturdy railings. There should be clear signage and workers who don't have to be near the hole should be kept at a safe distance. For those who do need to work in or around the hole, there should be safety features such as mats or safety harnesses.
At Oxford Safety Components, we offer light weight concertina and fixed covers for Inspection pits, (CAVE COVER) to suit any width or length.
For trench’s, manholes or simply an inspection hole, our GRP trench mat is the perfect solution and due to its trellis design it covers anything up to 900mm wide and 2 metres long in just one mat. On longer sections just lay more down, also it’s great to be able to see through and carry out inspections on work without having to lift the covers.
For more information on our cave covers and mats, visit www.oxfordsafety.co.uk or email [email protected]