Top 10 tips for safe working at height

ladder-imageWorking at height can be one of the more dangerous occupations if not managed properly. Even a fall from a relatively small height can lead to serious injuries.

In the year 2011/2012 falls from height accounted for nearly a quarter of fatal injuries to workers reported to HSE with 62 fatalities, significantly more than any other kind of accident. More than six in ten of all fatal falls took place in construction (25 out of 40 fatal fall injuries). Furthermore falls from height accounted for 3067 major injuries.

As such it is no surprise the HSE regularly includes working at height in their inspection regimes, especially in the construction industry. For instance in August 2012 HSE conducted an inspection campaign of scaffolding throughout the West Midlands, Worcestershire and Warwickshire, looking at whether jobs that involve working at height have been properly planned to ensure that adequate safety measures are in place and that equipment is correctly installed, inspected, maintained and used.

With a measure of competence, good planning and proactive safety management employees can work at height safely. Here are our top ten tips to safe working at height:

  1. Identify all working at height activities undertaken by employees and others such as contractors within your business.
  2. Make an initial assessment of all these working at height activities to determine if there is a risk of injury to those who:
    – are working at height
    – may be affected by those working at height (e.g. potential to be struck by falling objects).
  3. Remove the need for working at height activities wherever possible.
  4. Where work at height cannot be avoided, undertake a full risk assessment of those remaining activities that have a significant level of risk.
  5. Consider possible control measures based upon the hierarchy to minimise the risk as far as reasonably practicable. Consult widely on proposed control measures.
  6. Implement the necessary control measures.
  7. Develop and implement a monitoring and maintenance strategy (i.e. how will you check to see that the control measures are being used and maintained?)
  8. Make sure you keep a record.
  9. Review all assessments regularly and particularly if there is any change in personnel or work at height operations, or if an accident or injury occurs.
  10. Ensure that you have a policy covering working at height and that it is communicated to everyone who might reasonably need to know. This will always include your employees and will also include contractors and co-occupiers where applicable.


Disclaimer: The information provided through Legislation Watch is for general guidance only and is not legal advice. Legislation Watch is not a substitute for Health and Safety consultancy. You should seek independent advice about any legal matter.

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