The UK working at height regulations were put in place by the government to protect workers from fatal accidents. The term “working at height” refers to work that is carried out in any environment where, without adequate safety measures, a worker could fall a distance liable to cause major injury or death.
All employers, contractors and high-building owners have a duty of care to their employees to ensure their safety in the workplace. When working at height, a single fall can result in a major injury or fatality. Prevalent cases of accidents occuring when working at heights include over-reaching and falling from steps and ladders, falling from the floor level into a hole deep in the ground and falling through a fragile surface, opening or ledge.
A fall from height is a fall from one level to another, whether that fall is below or above ground. Due to the nature of the work and industry, employees of maintenance and construction companies are at most risk of falling from a height. Painters, and other workers whose expertise is needed at construction sites, are also at risk.
Accidents are more frequent when there are no adequate safety measures in place. Appropriate safety measures when working at height include the use of working platforms and guardrails, proper planning and supervision, and having the correct fall arrest system in place. UK law enforces regulations on working at height to ensure the safety of workers. Those that fail to comply with the regulations risk legal consequences.
The UK Work at Height Regulations came into effect on 6 April 2005. Its purpose is to ensure the safety of people working at height. In 2005 alone, 3,350 major injuries occurred as a result of a fall from height, 46 of which were fatalities.
These regulations apply to any work environment where there is a foreseeable and imminent risk of a fall. They impose a duty of care to employees on those who oversee work at height, such as employers, building owners or managers.
The legally-binding regulations include:
Organisation and Planning: Every overseer of work at height, including employers and building owners, must ensure that work is planned and supervised appropriately. Planning should involve selecting the proper equipment and preparing for emergencies and rescue in cases where a fall arrest system is used. The employer must also ensure that work is carried out in the safest environment possible, making regular risk assessments vital.
Competence: Employers should ensure that every person involved in working at height has the relevant skills and knowledge needed to do work or, alternatively, is supervised by competent and qualified personnel.
Prevention of Risk: Employees should avoid working at height unless absolutely necessary. Workers should also not be authorised to work at height when work can be otherwise completed sufficiently without it. Should working at height be the only option, the employer must provide safety measures to prevent falls and, when falling is inevitable, a fall arrest system should be installed.
Selection of Work Equipment: During the selection of equipment for work at height, every employer must prioritise a worker’s safety over cost and brand loyalty. Employers are responsible for ensuring that any equipment selected for working at height has the right dimension, rigidity and sturdiness for the work and is suitable for the intended works.
Fragile Surfaces or Risk Zone: Employers should ensure that no member of staff works on a fragile surface or in a zone with a high risk of falling when it is possible to carry out work away from these zones or on a stable surface.
To prevent workers from reaching fragile surfaces, employers must ensure the necessary fall protection system — such as guardrails or a similar platform — is provided. Warning signs should also be clearly visible to deter workers from accessing such zones. When the risk of falling is certain, employers should have a fall arrest system and rescue procedure in place to minimise the impact and consequences of a fall.
To prevent fall from height and comply with these regulations, employers must have appropriate protection and safety measures in place. High Access Solutions’ safety services help employers and supervisors to comply with The Work at Height Regulations 2005.
If you are looking for a comprehensive roof-safety solution, you need to consider the many fall hazards and consult the experts. High Access Solutions can ensure all areas are covered in a cost-efficient manner.
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