What is work at height?

Performing “work at height” means a work in any place (including a place at or below ground level) where, if suitable measures are not in place or taken, a person could fall a distance liable to cause Personal injury. This definition is wide ranging.

What approach should be taken when selecting work at height controls?

The legal requirement for work at height are set out in the

  • The Health & Safety at Work Act 1974

  • The Work at Height Regulations 2005

  • The Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulation 1999 (specifically the general requirement to assess health & safety risks)

  • The Provision & Use or Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (which sets out the general requirements for work equipment)

When planning work at height, the regulations demand the following approach:

1) Avoid work at height as far as is reasonably practicable

2) Where work at height cannot be avoided, ensure that it is properly assessed, planned, supervised & implemented.

3) Where work at height cannot be avoided, implement suitable control measures applying the hierarchy of control:

a) Using an existing place of work suitably equipped to prevent falls as far as reasonably practicable.

Where this isn’t reasonably practicable or sufficient then;

b) Using suitable work equipment to prevent falls as far as reasonably practicable, with preference given to collective protection over personal protection.

Where this isn’t reasonably practicable or sufficient then;

c) Using equipment to minimise the effects of falling, with preference given to collective protection over personal protection.

Who is responsible for managing work at height?

Heads of Department are accountable for managing work of height for activities over which they have control, although others may manage this on their behalf.