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Working at Height - Not worth the risk

In 2017/2018 more worker deaths were caused by falls from height than any other kind of incident in the UK, killing 35 workers. Working at height means working in any place where, if precautions are not taken, someone could fall a distance liable to cause personal injury. You are working at height if you:

  • work above ground/floor level

  • could fall from an edge, through an opening or fragile surface or

  • could fall from ground level into an opening or a hole in the ground

Roof work is high risk and falls from roofs, through fragile roofs and fragile roof lights are one of the most common causes of workplace death and serious injury. As well as in construction, these accidents can also occur on roofs of factories, warehouses and farm buildings when roof repair work or cleaning is being carried out.

The most tragic aspect of all is that these deaths can almost always be prevented. The Working at Height Regulations 2005 aim to prevent death and injury caused by a fall from height by placing a duty on employers, and those who control any work at height activity, to ensure work is properly planned, supervised and carried out by competent people.

Before working at height you must follow these simple steps:

  • avoid work at height where it is reasonably practicable to do so

  • where work at height cannot be easily avoided, prevent falls using either an existing place of work that is already safe or the right type of equipment

  • minimise the distance and consequences of a fall, by using the right type of equipment where the risk cannot be eliminated

You should:

  • do as much work as possible from the ground

  • ensure workers can get safely to and from where they work at height

  • ensure equipment is suitable, stable and strong enough for the job, maintained and checked regularly

  • not overload or overreach when working at height

  • take precautions when working on or near fragile surfaces

  • provide protection from falling objects

  • consider emergency evacuation and rescue procedure

There is a wealth of information available from the HSE to ensure you and your employees can manage working at height correctly and avoid any unnecessary accidents. It is important the risks are communicated to everyone; if you need any help in providing the correct information and training please contact us here.

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