In 2005 The Work at Height Regulations were enforced to assure safer standards of working across industries. But what does it mean to be compliant? Let’s break this down into bitesize chunks...
Firstly, what IS working at height?
According to the HSE, working at height means working in any place where if there were no precautions, a fall from a distance would cause personal injury. So that includes:
- Working on a ladder
- Working on a roof
- Anywhere where you could fall through a fragile surface
What’s important to remember is that working at height doesn’t just mean that there’s potential to fall to ground level, it also includes those instances where you can fall from ground level to below. This would include anywhere where you could fall into an opening in a floor or a hole in the ground, such as:
Do I Need to be Concerned With the Regulations?
Short answer - yes.
If you are an employer, or you control any work at height, you need to know about these regulations. That includes if you hire contractors or you own a building.
Not so fast employees... You also have a general legal duty to ensure your own safe working, and the care of those around you who may be affected by your actions. To fulfil your duty as an employee, the HSE recommends you:
- Report hazards to your employer
- Use the equipment and the safety devices given to you by your employer.
Okay Great, so How do I Make Sure I’m Compliant?
- Avoiding work at height whenever possible
- Where you can, do your work from the ground
- If working at height cannot be prevented, work on a site that is already safe OR implement a fall prevention system to stop the fall happening in the first place.
- If you cannot prevent the fall, protect the person from falling so far by using a fall protection system.
By starting with this checklist, you’re able to identify areas where you may be taking unnecessary risks. Remember, if you don’t have to work from height, don’t.Moving forward, if you cannot avoid working at height and must implement a safety system; make sure that it has been tested against standards such as BS.8630:2019 or BS 8620:2016. On receiving the system, make sure it is installed by trained and competent operatives. Also, make sure that if applicable, your staff are trained on how to use the system thoroughly.
Something that’s really important is maintenance, systems that are not properly maintained put staff at risk- and that’s what we’re trying to avoid. Make sure you frequently check the system and if something looks wrong, stop using the equipment immediately and alert your provider.
Plan efficiently to protect against falls from height, and you’ll find that being compliant is simple and there to protect you and your staff.