Working at Height – Not Just a Concern for the Construction Industry

There are many rules and regulations that govern safe practice in the workplace but, there are some that are commonly associated with certain industries and sectors.

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For example, manual handling training is associated with those working in a heavily physical role, such as lifting or moving patients. As a result, some employers think that some training is sector or industry specific. The truth is far different. If your employees are lifting items, even if they are ‘only light’ and do so infrequently, they should be trained in manual handling.

The same is true when it comes to ‘Working at Height’ regulations. Many employers assume that these sets of regulations and good practice guidance are only for the construction industry where the frequency of employees using ladders and other climbing equipment is a daily occurrence, and several times in the day too.

But, ‘Working at Height’ regulations cover ALL industries and all sectors.

Why is falling from height considered a risk?

Falls from height are responsible for many injuries every year across a range of industries. In some cases, the injuries sustained are fatal. Research shows that anyone who falls from two metres or more is likely to sustain serious injury.

There are many jobs that people do that involve heights, from working using ladders and scaffolding, to working on roofs, as well as over tanks and pits or on elevated structures. Balancing on stepladders to retrieve items from high shelving, such as in a supermarket or storeroom, are also covered by ‘Working at Height’ regulations and practices.

The legal viewpoint

As well as being a moral duty to protect those that work for and with you, employers are also bound by health and safety legislations. These laws and regulations provide guidance on how workers, as well as members of the public, should be protected from hazards and risks in the workplace.

  • The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 – these regulations cover all aspects for the workplace and stipulate that employers must ensure that all areas that could result in a fall from height are properly guarded
  • The Work at Height Regulations 2005 – this regulation encourages people not to work at height, unless it is absolutely necessary. Where it cannot be avoided, it ensures practical means of protecting people from falls, as well as the steps to take for adequate prevention of falling and so on.

Assessing the risk

ALL employers should assess the risks with employees who work at height, whether this is a frequent task or not. Using a step ladder to retrieve something from the top shelf may seem harmless enough but, if it not risk assessed, then it could lead to an injured employee.

It is not an onerous task to ensure that your employees are safe at work, and neither is ensuring that they can work at height safely. Working safely at height is as simple as providing the right equipment to complete a task safely, and ensuring your employees are trained to do so.

 

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