How to Assess Work at Height Tasks

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Work at height is the biggest single cause of fatal and serious injury in the construction industry, particularly on smaller projects. Over 60% of deaths during work at height involve falls:

  • from ladders, scaffolds, working platforms and roof edges; and
  • through fragile roofs or roof lights.

The law stipulates that all employers and self-employed contractors must assess the risk from work at height, as well as organise and plan the work so it is carried out safely.

Don’t forget to avoid work at height wherever possible, or find alternative solutions. If work at height is unavoidable, you must prevent or arrest a fall or injury and instruct and train your workforce in the necessary precautions.

Key issues for all work at height are:

  • Risk assessment
  • Precautions required
  • Method statements

Risk Assessment

Employers and self-employed contractors must:

  • Assess the risks;
  • Decide on the precautions required;
  • Record the significant findings; and
  • Review the assessment as necessary.

Precautions Required

The law on work at height requires that you take account of your risk assessment in organising and planning work and identifying the precautions required. Your objective is to make sure work at height is properly planned, supervised and carried out in a safe manner.

The approaches you can adopt for work at height are to:

  • Avoid work at height where it reasonably practicable to do so, e.g. by assembly at ground level and:
  • Prevent any person falling a distance liable to cause personal injury e.g. by using a scaffold platform with double guard-rail and toeboards; and
  • Arrest a fall with equipment to minimise the distance and consequences of a fall, e.g. safety nets, where work at height cannot be avoided or the fall prevented.

Method Statements

A method statement is a useful way of recording the hazards involved in specific work at height tasks and communicating the risk and precautions required to all those involved in the work.

The method statement should be clear and illustrated by simple sketches where necessary. Avoid ambiguities or generalisations, which could lead to confusion. Statements are for the benefit of those carrying out the work and their immediate supervisors and should not be overcomplicated.

Equipment needed for safe working should be clearly identified and available before work starts. Workers should know what to do if the work method needs to be changed.

After peace of mind that your team is safe and your site compliant? Our height safety specialists are always up-to-date on the latest regulations and work with the highest quality safety systems and equipment. Get in touch today to book your FREE site survey. Or call: 0333 234 1801.