Working at heights is inherently dangerous, particularly if both hands are required to do a job

A fall doesn't have to be from a much of a height to kill or injure someone; a fall of less than 2 metres is sometimes enough. The Work at Height Regulations require an assessment to be undertaken before starting any work at height. If this confirms that there is no alternative to working at height, then suitable work equipment should be selected, taking into account the nature of the work.

Ladder - poor use05There is a simple hierarchy for managing and selecting equipment for work at height, which those organising work must apply. This is:

  • avoid work at height where ever possible;
  • use work equipment or other measures to prevent falls, where working at height cannot be avoided ; and
  • where the risk of a fall cannot be eliminated, use work equipment or other measures, to minimise the distance and consequences of a fall should one occur.

Where used, access equipment must be set up on a firm even surface, away from overhead and wall-mounted power cables. Before starting work, adequate precautions must be taken to protect and safeguard anyone below. Where the equipment that is being used causes an obstruction, then warning signs and barriers should be set up.

Do not work off any form of access equipment near an open landing, window, of leading edge, unless precautions have been taken to prevent anyone from falling over or through it.

Always keep an eye on the weather conditions whilst working outdoors, for example if high winds are present it may make the ladder or working platform unsafe, in these conditions no one must attempt to work at a height.

Permission may be needed from the site owner, Local Authority and/or police before the erection of scaffolding and/or towers. Where the equipment causes an obstruction, warning signs and lighting may have to be provided and maintained.

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