The scaffolding association has asked the government to not scrap or relax existing working at height regulations. As a result of Brexit and the ‘Reform Bill’, more than 2000 laws and regulations might be scrapped or reconsidered. This comes under the current ‘sunset clause.
According to Parliament, the sunset clause is ‘A provision in a Bill that gives it an expiry date once it is passed into law‘. Therefore, for the remainder of 2023, government ministers have to decide which to keep, amend or scrap altogether. And, included in the reform bill is the current Working at Height Regulations.
Working at height regulations
The aim of the working at height regulations is to help improve safety and reduce fatalities at work. Before their introduction, on average 67 fatalities happened as a result of falling from height. In comparison, since they were introduced in 2005, the number of deaths has dramatically decreased to just 29. Yet despite the numbers clearly going down, a fall from height is still the main cause of fatal accidents in the workplace.
Moreover, HSE released statistics recently that support the need for the working at height regulations to remain. The statistics showed that in 2022 around 60% of deaths were attributed to falls from ladders, scaffolds, suspended platforms, and falls through fragile roofs.
These numbers consistently demonstrate that working at height remains one of the biggest contributors to workplace fatalities. Meaning that UK Parliament need to carefully consider the ramifications that could happen as a result of scrapping the regulations.
The importance of complying with regulations
Assessing the potential dangers of working at height is crucial in helping prevent harm. Interestingly, the current working at height regulations don’t have minimum height requirement for working at height. So someone using a small step ladder to access the top of a filing cabinet has the same risk of injury as someone working on a building site.
Furthermore, the regulations include all activities where there is a need to control the risk of working at height. This is irrespective of whether equipment is being used, or how long a person is working at height.
Any business where work at height is common need to ensure compliance with the current HSE regulations.
Support for current regulations
Speaking on behalf of the Scaffolding Association, Chief Executive Robert Candy said that the association ‘fully supports working at height regulations (WAHR)’. He also stated that he doesn’t believe that the current regulations are a burden for businesses to implement.
The scaffolding Association are looking for reassurance from government ministers that they don’t remove working at height regulations. Additionally they want to be sure that any amendments made to the regulations don’t compromise the safety of workers within the wider construction industry.
Lastly, the Scaffolding Association has offered their ‘expertise and support’ to ministers involved in re-visiting current working at height regulations. Hopefully that will be enough to understand the implications of change before final decisions are made.
Help with working at height
Despite what people may think, working at height isn’t just a regulation for the building trade to be aware of. Many manufacturing companies that we work with have some areas of risk relating to work at height.
Currently, working at height regulations forms part of a businesses Health and Safety compliance. If you’re not sure whether you need to comply with WAHR, one of our friendly technicians can guide you through the process. This might mean a visit to site to conduct a risk assessmentm but that’s something we can discuss . Alternatively you may already be conducting regular working at height assessments. Whatever the reason, Safety First Group can help.