Working at Heights

Falls from height are one of the biggest causes of workplace fatalities and major injuries. Common causes are falls from ladders and through fragile roofs. The purpose of the Working at Heights Regulations is to prevent death and injury from a fall from height.

Working at height means work in any place where, if there were no precautions in place, a person could fall a distance liable to cause personal injury.  For example:

  • Working on a ladder or a flat roof
  • Could fall through a fragile surface
  • Could fall into an opening in a floor or a hole in the ground

There is a common misconception that ladders and stepladders are banned, but this is not the case. There are many situations where a ladder is the most suitable equipment for working at height. Before working at height, you must work through these simple steps:

  • avoid work at height where it is reasonably practicable to do so;
  • where work at height cannot be 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.

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 following are likely to be fragile:

  • roof lights;
  • liner panels on built-up sheeted roofs;
  • non-reinforced fibre cement sheets;
  • corroded metal sheets;
  • glass (including wired glass);
  • rotted chipboard;
  • slates and tiles.

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