The working at height regulations 2005 help to prevent injury and death caused by a fall from height. Construction sites use various types of equipment that can be hazardous to health, so we take a look at what the HSE regulations are and how you can implement them to safeguard employee health and prevent fines for non-compliance.
Working at height risk assessments
A thorough risk assessment conducted by a trained and skilled professional is the best way to identify risk on your construction site.
Working at height regulations apply to anyone who instructs or conducts work to be completed at height so consultants on site should also be trained in working at height rules before they are allowed to work on your site.
Working at height risk follows a hierarchy of controls set by the HSE that encompasses avoid-prevent-arrest. The initial question that is asked when conducting a working at height risk assessment is ‘can this be done safely from the ground?’.
Frequently asked questions about working at height
How do I assess height safety?
Assessing the risk is the first step to ensuring you are compliant, this means that you will need to consider risks that are not obvious, and may need some help in doing so. If you dont have a health and safety officer, then a third party health and safety compliance professional will be able to do this for you. You also need to provide anyone working at height with clear method statements for how safety is achieved at height.
What precautions do I have to take?
Do as much work from the ground as possible. This reduces the chances of injury or fatality caused by falling from height. Ensuring that your workforce can get to and from where they work at height safely is a must, this means that the whole workforce needs to be aware of people working at height and help minimise risk where possible. Any equipment being used also needs to be stable and strong enough to facilitate working from height, so regular inspections of equipment is essential.
When is it OK to use ladders?
Before you use ladders you must always check that it’s safe to proceed. This will give the user the opportunity to assess the risk and rectify any problems before use. Ladders are often mobile equipment and the feet can get dirty when used in different locations. It is essential that the feet are cleaned prior to use to ensure a proper grip on the surface they are to be used on. Mud is slippy, and accidents due to slippery surfaces can be avoided beforehand. The HSE use the following hierarchy of controls position-condition-safe use.
What if we are working on a roof?
Working on a roof is highly dangerous. 1 in 5 deaths on construction sites are said to involve roof work, so even for a small job, proper precautions are needed. Working on a roof should only be done by trained and competent workers who are aware of the risk and use proper precautions. Access, surface and edges and openings need to be properly assessed and method statements prepared so that all workers are aware of how to conduct themselves.
Can scaffolding be used to reduce falls?
Yes! Scaffolding is a great way to reduce a fall from height. The scaffold tower must be suitable for the type of work being performed, as well as being erected and dismantled by people who have been trained to do so. The use of scaffolding comes with strict regulations, including rigorous scaffolding inspections, so make sure that before you decide to install any scaffolding you follow the HSE guidance here.