Falls from height are a major cause of fatalities and serious injuries in the UK, with falls from ladders and through fragile surfaces making up a significant number of these.
However, employers can often prevent falls from height by carrying out a full risk assessment and using appropriate control measures whenever a person is working at height.
In this article, we will look at what working at height is, the legislation surrounding it, and the working at height risk assessment process.
A person is considered to be working at height if they are working in any place where, if precautions are not taken, they could fall a distance liable to cause personal injury. For example, they may be:
The main health and safety legislation that covers work at height is the Work at Height Regulations 2005. They require employers to:
A risk assessment for working at height uses the same stages as any other risk assessment, which are detailed below.
Stage 1 - Identify the hazards
The first thing to do is to identify any potential hazards that are present in the workplace, and who may be harmed by them. These will vary significantly between workplaces, but may include:
Stage 2 - Estimate the risks
Every hazard that has been identified must then be assessed to determine how likely it is to happen, and the severity of the consequences if it does.
Stage 3 - Evaluate the risks
Once the likelihood and consequence has been determined for each hazard, the risk that it poses can be calculated and appropriate control measures to manage it can be identified. Some example controls include:
A good method to use to determine appropriate control measures is the working at height hierarchy of control, which we have previously explored in this article.
Stage 4 - Record the findings
This is the stage at which all of the findings from the risk assessment are recorded. For a generic risk assessment template, click here to view our article on how to do a risk assessment.
Stage 5 - Review the controls
Once the risk assessment has been completed, it must be reviewed regularly.
The time between reviews should vary depending on the severity of the risks being controlled. For example, a risk assessment for working on the edge of a 15 storey building's roof should be reviewed more regularly than one for working off a 1m stepladder.
It should also be reviewed when certain 'trigger events' occur, such as:
If you are looking to train yourself or your staff in how to safely work at height or complete a workplace risk assessment, consider taking one of our online training courses below: