Are there any health and safety requirements which employers must be aware of when employing people to work at heights?

Working at height in the UK

Many individuals when undertaking their normal duties required for their employment will be required to work at height. This clearly brings in the notion of people working as builders or window cleaners but there are many other jobs where both employers and employees will have to be aware of certain health and safety requirements for working at heights.

The Work at Height Regulations 2005

The Work at Height Regulations 2005 is the legislative instrument which deals with the health and safety requirements for working at height in England and Wales. This gives effect to the European Union laws covering the same topic.

What is meant by working as heights?

Under the Regulations, a place of height is one which is regarded as where a person could be injured by falling from it. For the purposes of the law a place is at height even if it is at ground level or even it is below ground level.

Work for the purpose of the Regulations means moving around in the working environment and does not include travelling to and from work.

What is the potential problem when working at height?

There are various hazards which can be experienced when working at height; broadly speaking they will fall into one of the following three categories:

  1. Falling from heights

  2. Objects falling from heights

  3. Falls from collapsing structures

What duties does an employer have when working at heights?

An employer will have to undertake the following duties when working at heights:

  • To avoid all work at height whenever this is possible

  • To use suitable equipment to aid the work at height if there is no other method of carrying out the work from a place which is not at height

  • To do everything which is possible to minimise the height at which the person may fall from

  • To do everything possible to minimise the consequences of someone falling from a height

Is an employer required to undertake a full risk assessment prior to allowing employees to work at height?

As is the case under other areas of health and safety law in order for an employee to be fully compliant under the Work at Height Regulations he is required to undertake a full risk assessment.

As an employer what must I do to ensure that I have completed a full risk assessment?

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For more information on:

  • Are there any specific issues which should be taken into consideration and put in place under the Regulations?
  • Falling Objects
  • When an individual could possibly fall from a certain height
  • Falling from collapsing structures