Health & Safety

Regulations for working at height

The Work at Height Regulations 2005 (WAHR) consolidate previous legislation on working at height and implement European Council Directive 2001/45/EC concerning minimum safety and health requirements for the use of equipment for work at height (the Temporary Work at Height Directive or TWAHD).

One of the key issues outlined in the consultation document was the requirement for WAHR to extend the existing provisions beyond ’construction’ work to a wider range of other sectors and activities, for example window cleaning, other industrial cleaning and maintenance, container top working in docks, working on the back of a lorry, erecting bill posters and arboriculture activities.

These regulations require employees, self-employed, and any person that controls the work of others to select the most appropriate measures whenever there is a risk of a fall liable to cause injury regardless of the distance. Consequently the regulations apply to all work at height where there is a risk of a fall liable to cause personal injury.

They place duties on employees, the self-employed, and any person that controls the work of others to the extent of their control (for example facilities managers or building owners who may contract others to work at height).

The Regulations require duty holders to ensure;

  • all work at height is properly planned and organised.
  • those involved in work at height are competent.
  • the risks from work at height are assessed and appropriate work equipment is selected and used.
  • the risks from fragile surfaces are properly controlled and equipment for work at height is properly inspected and maintained.

The Risks

There are many risks associated with working at height ranging from the access and egress to a roof to roof obstacles such as plant and roof lights.  The illustration below gives a clearer example.

When designing a system for our clients we would always as a first resort opt for a fall restraint system.  This where the system is set back typically 2.3m from any roof hazard or fall with the operative utilising a 1.8m lanyard.  This enables the operative to reach the area of work, i.e. the gutter or downpipe without being able to reach the fall or danger zone.  The short video clips below demonstrate the difference between fall arrest and fall restraint.