What You Need to Know About Work at Height Regulations

What You Need to Know About Work at Height Regulations

08th August 2019

Work at height has been a cause for concern across the UK for many years now. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has found this to be contributing to 28% and 7% of fatal and non-fatal workplace injuries, respectively. The injuries are subject to people falling or objects dropped at height, causing injuries to the people below.

The government, in an attempt to prevent and stop the risk, set specific rules and regulations – Work at Height Regulations 2005 – to guide businesses with staff working at height. Keep reading for a detailed overview of these regulations.

What Are They?

These are simply the rules aiming to prevent injuries and deaths when working at heights. It’s the responsibility of every employer and anyone with control of work done at height to adhere to the rules fully. The rules also contain the set-out responsibilities for the employees to follow. They provide recommended guidelines for any task done at height with a falling risk. Such tasks could include work near the edge, above the ground floor and at ground level with a risky opening.

How to Comply

To fully comply with the regulations as a work at height controller or employer, some things need to be done. The primary objective is to avoid working at height as much as possible. In case it’s unavoidable to work at height, you should always prioritise eliminating the risks to your staff. The next thing to do for risks impossible to eliminate is to take the necessary actions to minimise the consequences of any potential fall. It’s essential to undertake a risk assessment and properly manage any identified risks. You should also ensure that the work is planned and only competent staff with proper protective equipment are allowed to work at height.

When to Use a Ladder

If, after a risk assessment, there’s no justification for the use of equipment that offers a higher level of fall protection owing to the short duration of use, low risk or pre-existing recommended workplace features, the law recommends the use of ladders. However, you should only use ladders where they can be safely installed, i.e. where it’s level and stable and significantly practicable to use. Otherwise, you should seek alternative equipment. It’s essential that you get yourself quality and OSHA compliant safety ladders of the right type for that specific task in your business or home.


Guardrails and Working Platforms

For construction work, handrails are to be set not exceeding 470 mm apart and should have a height of at least 950 mm.

Collective and Personal Prevention Measures

Collective measures refer to equipment that doesn’t require you to be effective when working at height e.g. tower scaffolds and temporary/permanent guardrails. Personal prevention measures on the other hand, refer to the equipment that requires you to be effective when using it, e.g. safety harness installation and connection to a specific anchor point.  

The Bottom Line

Safety in the workplace is very important and should never be taken for granted. Work at Height Regulations 2005 contains all the necessary rules that all employers and anyone controlling work at height must follow to prevent possible injuries and deaths. Risk assessment is essential to determine the necessary protection measures required to be undertaken. High-risk tasks require more effort when planning safe operations. Always ensure to prioritise on your safety and that of your staff.