4th March 2020

Working At Height: Key facts & Regulations

Working at height comes as standard in the construction industry. A key part of many day-to-day jobs, it can include everything from stacking shelves on ladders to cleaning windows from a mobile elevated work platform. We can often take it for granted, but working at height can come with many risks, and as an employer, you’re liable for any falls or injuries that may occur. Falls from height are one of the biggest causes of workplace fatalities and major injuries.

That’s why it’s important to be aware of the key laws and regulations that affect working at height. We know that it can be tough trying to keep up with the latest legislation and guidelines, so we’re here to make it simple. In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know and explain your key responsibilities as an employer.

Work at Height Regulations 2005 (WAHR)

The purpose of WAHR is to prevent death and injury from a fall from height. Work at height means work in any place where, if there were no precautions in place, a person could fall a distance liable to cause personal injury. If you are someone who controls work at height, such as a contractor or factory owner, you need to be compliant with this regulation.
In order to comply, you need to ensure that all work to be carried out at height is properly planned, appropriately supervised and carried out by competent and qualified people. They should have the necessary skills and experience to do the job, and the appropriate training must be supplied for those who need it.

When it comes to planning in the work, you must pay attention to weather conditions that could compromise safety, always store materials safely so that they pose no risk of injury. You must also plan effectively for any emergencies, and set up a proper procedure for evacuation and rescue from height. Most of this comes down to common sense – so if something feels wrong or unsafe, don’t do it and consult official guidance before continuing.

Employer Responsibilities

As an employer, you have a responsibility to ensure that you’re managing risks effectively, making sure your workforce is as safe as possible. There are a few key things you need to be aware of – let’s take a look at some of the key bits:

  • Avoiding working at height if possible. One of the first steps to take is to try and avoid working at height if at all possible. Try and do as much as you can from the ground, using extendable tools or lowering lighting masts to ground level.
  • Minimising the risk. If you can’t completely remove the risk of a fall, you can take measures to minimise the impact. You should aim to use an existing safe location to carry out work. You should also utilise work equipment where possible which has fall prevention measures built in to prevent a fall, such as scaffolds and MEWPs.
  • Minimising the distance. You should also take sufficient measures to reduce the potential distance a person could fall, through the use of safety nets or via personal protection equipment such as industrial ropes and safety harnesses.
  • Ladder and stepladder guidance. These can be used for some work at height, but only if it isn’t heavy or strenuous in nature. Ladders should only be utilised for short periods of time (15-30 minutes) and only where a risk assessment shows that they are suitable.

Falls from height are one of the biggest causes of injury in the workplace, so it’s essential that as an employer you’re adhering to the key laws and regulations that have been laid out. Ultimately it’s all about keeping your workforce safe, and ensuring you remain compliant.

If you’re looking for more advice on industry laws and regulations, head on over to our blog. We stay up-to-date with all the latest insights and industry news and regularly share our knowledge. Alternatively, you can get in touch with us and we’ll be happy to help.

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