Working at Height Regulations – What You Need to Know

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Working at a height is one of the most dangerous parts of any job and remains a leading cause of death and injury in the workplace. When working at height, a single fall can result in a major injury or fatality. 

In 2017/18 alone, a total of 38 workers in the Construction Industry were fatally injured as a result of falling from height, this accounted for roughly 35% of all fatalities. Accidents include occurrences of over-reaching and falling from steps and ladders, falling from the floor level into a hole deep in the ground and falling through a fragile surface, opening or ledge.

The UK working at height regulations were put in place to protect workers from fatal accidents. All employers, contractors and high-building owners have a duty of care to their employees to ensure their safety in the workplace.

What Constitues Working at Height?

The term “working at height” refers to work that is carried out in any environment where, without adequate safety measures, a worker could fall a distance liable to cause major injury or death.

A fall from height is a fall from one level to another, whether that fall is below or above ground. Due to the nature of the work and industry, employees of maintenance and construction companies are at most risk of falling from a height. Painters, and other workers whose expertise is needed at construction sites, are also at risk.

The Importance of Safety Measures

Accidents are more frequent when adequate safety measures are not put in place. Appropriate safety measures when working at height include the use of working platforms and guardrails, proper planning and supervision, and having the correct fall arrest system in place. UK law enforces regulations on working at height to ensure the safety of workers. Those that fail to comply with the regulations risk legal consequences.

UK Working at Height Regulations

The UK Work at Height Regulations came into effect on 6 April 2005. Its purpose is to keep those working at height safe. The regulations apply to any work environment where there is a foreseeable and imminent risk of a fall. They impose a duty of care to employees on those who oversee work at height, such as employers, building owners or managers.

If you are an employer or you control work at height (for example facilities managers or building owners who may contract others to work at height) the Regulations apply to you.

The legally-binding regulations include:

Prevention of Risk: 

Employees should not be working at height unless absolutely necessary. Other safe means of completing a task without working at height should be explored first. Should working at height be the only option, the employer must provide safety measures to prevent falls and, when falling is inevitable, a fall arrest system should be installed.

Organisation and Planning: 

Employers and building owners must ensure that work is planned and supervised appropriately. Planning should involve selecting the proper equipment and preparing for emergencies and rescue in cases where a fall arrest system is used.  The employer must also ensure that work is carried out in the safest environment possible, making regular risk assessments vital.

Selection of Work Equipment: 

During the selection of equipment for work at height, every employer must prioritise a worker’s safety over cost and brand loyalty. Employers are responsible for ensuring that any equipment selected for working at height has the right dimension, rigidity and sturdiness for the work and is suitable for the intended works.


Employers should ensure that every person involved in working at height has the relevant skills and knowledge needed to do work or, alternatively, is supervised by competent and qualified personnel.

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.