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Working at height

February 21, 2020

Working at height poses many risks and remains one of the biggest causes of workplace injuries. In the UK, The Work at Height Regulations 2005 was put in place to prevent death and injury caused by a fall from height. These regulations apply to all employers and those who are in control of employees working at height.

How do you comply with the regulations of working at heights?

All employers and those in control of work at height activity need to follow the guidance from the government and ensure all work is appropriately planned. The regulations state that the work needs to be carried out by competent people with the right type of equipment, while also being fully supervised. Employers and those in control must also assess the risks linked to the job and factor in the height, duration and frequency of the task, as well as the factors that distinguish the surface being worked on.

Visit the Health and Safety Executive website for more information on The Work at Height Regulations 2005, alongside useful resources to ensure you are fully compliant with the law.

The importance of scaffolding when working at height

The Working at Height Regulations 2005 state that where possible, working at height should be avoided. However, in instances when it cannot be avoided, you need to “use the best practicable means of ensuring the safety of those working at height.”
working at height scaffolding

Fixed scaffolding is used as a temporary and secure structure to allow workers to reach higher parts of a building. This type of fall prevention is used for industrial, commercial and residential work and should be assembled according to manufacturer’s instructions, while in keeping with industry guidelines.

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An employer should always ensure the scaffolding is not used until a competent person has inspected it and that workers have had the correct training for the particular type of scaffolding they are working on.

Scaffolding and roof safety equipment

When using scaffolding to work at height, workers must wear at least the minimum safety equipment, including:

  • Safety helmet within UK safety regulations
  • Protective gloves
  • Protective footwear
  • Safety harness

It is also advisable to follow other safety measures, such as using edge protection, scaffguard and econo-guard when applicable. Edge protection is required for many jobs and for use with roof scaffolding. It requires a main guard rail to be at least 950mm above the edge, a toe board and brick guard to prevent objects being kicked off the edge, and guard rails or suitable alternative with gaps of less than 470mm.

When would you need to use roof scaffolding?

Roof scaffolding is used for several jobs such as chimney work, roof repairs and fitting new windows. For example, if you’re fitting a roof window, you will be cutting holes into a roof at height, so you must have scaffolding in place to carry out a safe and secure installation.

For further information regarding the regulations that must be followed when working at height, visit the government website.

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