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Working at Height Safely

Falls from height are one of the biggest causes of workplace accidents but with the right controls in place they can be prevented.

Employers must make sure work is properly planned, supervised and carried out by competent people who must ensure the risks involved are properly assessed.


Before any work at height you must consider the following:

■ Work at height should be avoided where it is reasonably practicable to do so. It might sound obvious but ask yourself – is there no other way?

■ 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. ATorn site pic WORKING FROM HEIGHT

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 and is maintained and checked regularly.

■ Make sure your staff don’t overload or overreach when working at height.

■ Take relevant precautions when working on or near fragile surfaces.

■ Provide protection from falling objects.

■ Consider your emergency evacuation and rescue procedures.

■ Always consider measures that protect everyone who is at risk (collective protection e.g. a guard rail) before measures that protect only the individual (personal protection e.g. safety harness).

■ Ensure work equipment is assembled or installed according to the manufacturer’s instructions and in keeping with industry guidelines.


Earlier this month a waste management firm and its owner were prosecuted after one worker died and another was left seriously injured when they fell from the bucket of an excavator. The bucket of an excavator is not designed to lift people yet nobody on site attempted to stop this activity taking place.

RHheadshotUnplanned, unassessed and unsupervised work at height can lead to devastating but wholly avoidable accidents. If you would like to talk to us about this area of Health and Safety or any other, please call us on 01302 341 344.


By Rachel Hamill LLB (Hons) DipCII

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