Human Resources

Work at height

Reduce the Risk

Any work at height should be avoided if possible and an alternative way of carrying out the task, identified. Working at height can include the use of

If work at height cannot be avoided then the following arrangements must be made:

  • A risk assessment must be carried out to identify what controls are required to minimise the risk. 

  • The task must be properly planned and organised

  • Falls should be prevented through the use of work equipment such as a fall arrest system  and guard rails

  • Consideration must be given to those below the area of work.  Controls must be implemented therefore which reduce the risk of falling objects such as an exclusion area

  • Anyone working at height must be competent by virtue of training and experience

  • Have a safe system of work in place which is easy to understand

  • Those working at height must be properly supervised and instructed

  • Work equipment must be subject to a comprehensive inspection and maintenance regime

Additional care must be taken when working on or near fragile surfaces which are more prone to breakage and collapse.  The risk assessment should identify the need for additional physical support in addition to safe working procedures and a permit to work system.  

Access to work platforms

Includes any type of equipment used to lift material or people to enable working at height:

  • Cranes

  • MEWP (Mobile Elevated Work Platform)

  • Cherry Picker

  • Hoists

The four key risks identified by the Health & Safety Executive when using access to work platforms and equipment are:

  • Entrapment when the operator gets trapped by the controls or between parts of the machine and any fixed structure but may not be able to stop the machine running.
  • Overturning when the machine becomes unstable and the operator is thrown off the equipment

  • Falling when the operator falls off at hieght from the equipemnt

  • Collision when the equipment collides with another object or person.

Control Measures

  •  Ensure the platforms are used on firm and level ground and the outriggers are fully extended 

  • Inspect the platform before use checking that it is stable and has it's guardrails/toeboards in place and in good working order

  •  Don't use platforms outside in poor weather conditions such as high winds 

  • Assess the impact on the stability of the platform and operator when carrying or installing heavy or large materials

  • Be aware of overhead cables, passing trafffic or other dangerous machinery

  • Do not exceed the safe working load (SWL) which is identified on the equipment

  • Only use competent operators who have been trained to do so


Ladders can be used for short duration work when the risk assessment shows that there is insufficient justification for using equipment which offers a higher level of fall protection such as a platform, or where workplace features cannot be changed.  The risk assessment is key in identifying whether using a ladder is acceptable or not.  The length of the task by itself is not a good enough reason.  Alternative options must be considered if the work task involves staying up a ladder for more than 30 minutes at a time.  Self-serve training and a generic risk assessment have been completed and are available from the links above.