Guide to Working at Heights in the U.K

If you’re someone who frequently finds yourself working at a height, you know how important personal safety is. In an article, the World Health Organization deemed falls to be the second leading cause of accidental deaths around the world. If you want to know more about working at heights and how to do so safely, keep reading!

 

How do you know if you’re working at a height?

The term “working at a height” can be vague, to say the least. Obviously, working just a few inches off the ground wouldn’t be considered “working at a height”. That being said, what is considered to be a height?

In general, we consider you to be working at a height if you’re working high enough to cause an injury if you fall. If you need an example, we frequently consider industries that involve scaffolding, ladders, or high ledges to be industries that involve working at a height.

It should be noted that if you work with permanent staircases, this is not considered to be working at a height. When we discuss an injury resulting from a fall, we mean an injury that results from a fall between two levels. While you might get injured from falling down the stairs, we wouldn’t consider you to be working at a height because of how many levels there are.

 height safety equipment

What about employers and height safety regulations?

As you may know, working at heights involves a significant number of height regulations. Employers can’t just start businesses and have workers climbing buildings. Employers do have a certain amount of responsibility when it comes to their employees’ safety. See the HSE Working at height guide.

 

For one thing, your employer must avoid assigning jobs involving dangerous heights if they can. They should also attempt to minimize the height of the fall, as well as the impact of it. If you’re an employer who’s looking for safety equipment to reduce the consequences of falls, you can look through our safety harnesses. Some of these harnesses, like our arrest harnesses, can reduce the speed of falls and, as such, prevent you from becoming injured.

 

If you’re an employer, you should follow some of our main guidelines:

  • Only assign jobs at heights to those who have had the training to do so.
  • Have appropriate plans for working at heights and always have a Plan B in case someone does fall
  • Remove fragile surfaces from the worksite where possible
  • Pay attention to the weather forecast
  • Have all equipment and worksites evaluated

What are your responsibilities when working from a height?

 While employers have responsibilities when they hire workers, those same workers also need to take precautions and follow regulations. At the end of the day, you have some responsibility when it comes to maintaining your safety. Here’s a list of those responsibilities

  • Comply with your licensing board’s safety regulations
  • Don’t work under the influence of alcohol or drugs at any time
  • Report any damages on the worksite to your employer
  • Behave responsibly
  • Follow the instructions of any certifications or training you take

What is a working at height risk assessment?

When you’re working at heights, a risk assessment must be performed to ensure you and your coworkers are being as safe as possible. With most licensing boards, a risk assessment is necessary for those who need to work at a height. This risk assessment will involve 4 things:

  • Identify hazards
  • Identify fall risks
  • Identify harm risks
  • Record all hazards

 Keep in mind that you’re not allowed to work if a risk assessment hasn’t been done. You should always ask your employer if a risk assessment has been performed and whether any updates are needed before you begin working.

Do you have a Plan B?

We briefly mentioned the importance of a Plan B above. If the day does come when someone falls on a worksite, you’ll want to have a Plan B in place. This will involve equipment that supports anyone who falls and procedures in case the equipment fails. At the end of the day, you should always have a rescue plan in case.

 Here is a list of things to consider when you’re creating your rescue plan.

  • Do you have an anchor point that can support your workers while you’re working?
  • Do you have rescuers available who can help you when something goes wrong?
  • Has your height safety equipment been evaluated?

Final Thoughts

For those who work at heights, maintaining your overall safety is of utmost importance. Different employers will have to follow different regulations regarding workplace safety, as will employees. Beyond this, you want to make sure that your employer has had a risk assessment performed.

Using appropriate height safety gear will help reduce potential injuries at the workplace. Get in touch with Lifting365 to explore a range of safety equipment for you.