Working at height can be a part of many peoples daily jobs and relates to anyone who in any place where if not proper precautions were taken place and a person fell, they could be liable to injury. Working at height can take a number of forms from working above floor or ground level, falling from an edge such as through a fragile surface or falling from ground level into an opening in the floor. It is important to remember that working at height and falling however is different to a slip or trip at height, the difference is that a fall from height has to occur from one level to another.
In order to maintain safety when working at height, the Work at Height Regulations 2005 places responsibility on the employer and anyone who controls work at height activities such as building owners who contract others to work at heights or facilities managers. The regulations cover a number of topics and as part of the regulations you must ensure that all working at heights is planned and organised, those working at heights are competent, working at heights risks are assessed and the appropriate equipment is used, working near fragile surfaces is assessed and appropriately managed and the equipment used at heights is inspected and maintained. Ensuring that you fulfil these duties is your responsibility when anyone is working at heights to ensure health and safety is maintained.
When working at heights ladders and stepladders are often involved which also has its associated risks. According to the law, ladders can be used at work at height when a risk assessment has shown that alternative equipment is not justified such as alternative features being in place which cannot be altered. Using ladders should only be used in situations when they can be used safely such as when you are ensure they will be secure and stable where it is reasonably practical.
Ensuring your employees are competent when working at height is essential to maintain their safety. You should make sure they have the sufficient skills to work in such an environment as well as the knowledge and experience and employed to do the task at hand. If they are being trained, they must understand that they are working under the supervision of an employee that is competent and trained to work at heights.
It is important to note that working at heights is a dangerous task that does have associated risks. In a recent survey, 26% of fatal injuries at work occurred from falls from height with all other common injuries ranking significantly lower. Keeping up to health and safety procedures when working at heights can help lower the risk of accidents happening in the work place.