Falls from height account for the single biggest cause of workplace deaths and one of the main causes of major injury within the workplace.
Employers and the self-employed are duty bound by the Work at Height Regulations 2005 to eliminate or reduce the risks when working at height.
The Work at Height Regulations 2005 have created the Hierarchy of Risk Management to provide guidance on managing and selecting the correct equipment when working at height:
It is the dutyholders responsibility to identify the work involved and plan the work to ensure the correct measures are in place. If the risk of a fall cannot be eliminated by collective protection measures, such as guard rails, scaffolding, cherry pickers or podium steps or by the use of a personal work restraing lanyard, then the distance and/or consequences of a fall should be mitigated by the use of nets or air bean bags etc. As a last resort, the correct PPE must be implemented.
Before any work at height commences, the following procedures need to be taken:
- Identify all the work involved, ensuring the work is accurately planned, supervised and carried out in as safe a way as is reasonably practicable.
- Assess all the risks and document the findings.
The risk assessment should:
- Identify the hazards
- Decide who and how they may be harmed
- Evaluate the risks and decide on the precautions
- Review your findings and implement them
- Assess the assessment and update if necessary
- Ensure those involved are trained and are competent, this includes the planning, supervision and the supply and maintenance of equipment.
- Have procedures for the selection of correct equipment and ensure that the selected equipment is actually used.
- On every occasion, inspection of the place of work and equipment is required.
- It is a requirement that suitable and sufficient rescue arrangements are enforced before any work at height commences. This will include having sufficient equipment and personnel who are trained to carry out a rescue. The rescue plan must consider the foreseeable injuries and environment.
These regulations saw the removal of the 2m rule which no longer applies. If a person is deemed to be at risk of injury from a fall, whatever the height, adequate measures must be taken, even if this is less than 2m.
Source:HSE: The Work at Height Regulations 2005 (as amended) A brief Guide