The Work at Height Regulations (WAH) in 2005 and Amendment in 2007 were introduced primarily to protect employees who work at height from a fall that could result in death or injury.
The following work at height information is to make you aware about these regulations as well as to advise you on how to keep our Engineer Surveyor safe while inspecting work at height equipment at your site.
How much risk is acceptable at work?
The answer is not as much as previously. Society’s tolerance of risk and what are acceptable working conditions are changing, hopefully for the better. In the year 1 April 2001 to 31 March 2002 in the UK alone there were 80 fatalities in the construction industry and a breakdown of the 2002/03 statistics reveal that 47% of these deaths were as a result of falls from height – making falls from height the single biggest cause of death in this industry (see http://www.hse.gov.uk/ press/2003/e03146.htm). This is obviously not tolerable. It’s the reason why there has been the recent introduction of additional regulations and inspections.
Work at Height requirements are sometimes a collaborative responsibility. In most cases the generic risk assessment carried out by our Engineer Surveyor will be sufficient to ensure that the work at height on your site is safe. In a few cases extra measures may have to be taken. This is more likely where special work at height access equipment has to be used in order to work at height or a rescue from height is deemed necessary in the event of an arrested fall or incapacitation. In these instances the onus is on you, your employees and us alike to ensure that requirements are met. No single party can take full responsibility and a collaborative effort is needed to reduce risk and comply with WAH. Contracting parties are expected to liaise with each other to plan and organise work activities.
At Skyreach Access Solutions we have both the appetite and the competence to collaborate with customers to mitigate the risks of working at height. Help us to help you You’ll probably want all WAH issues to be resolved in a single visit from our Engineer Surveyor. However we may have to address certain concerns in collaboration with you which is why we would ideally like you to consider these specific areas before our inspection.
- Is it necessary to work from height – is there a viable alternative?
- Have you a rescue plan if there is an accident? (This obviously means more than calling the Emergency Services.) Paradoxically the very act of reducing one risk (by inspecting your work equipment) potentially exposes our Engineer Surveyors to another risk – working at height.
That’s why we try to reduce the frequency of certain examinations and if possible find alternative methods to inspect items (for instance using remote video inspection (RVI) techniques to inspect work at height equipment from a distance). Once again we need to collaborate with you for ways to achieve this while still ensuring that the effectiveness of the examination is maintained.
Work at height equipment that is supplied by us may include hydraulic accumulators and safety valves, a personnel lift, a hydraulic crane, electric chain blocks, davit cranes, fall arrest equipment and rescue work at height equipment. To ensure they are competent for this work, all our Engineer Surveyors completed a three-day work at height training course approved by the British Wind Energy Association (BWEA). If they are working at an offshore wind farm they will also have passed a medical exam, completed a first aid training course and acquired an offshore survival certificate approved by the Offshore Petroleum Industry Training Organisation (OPITO). The main points regarding WAH There is no minimum height above which WAH regulations take effect. Instead it’s considered to be any place at work high enough that a fall is liable to cause personal injury or worse. The regulations apply to all sectors including the instruction or leadership to one or more people engaged in caving or climbing by way of sport, recreation, team building or similar activities. In general:
- Avoid work at height if possible.
- If work at height cannot be avoided, prevent falls by using work at height equipment and other measures.
- If falls cannot be prevented, mitigate the consequence of falls by using work at height equipment and other measures. More specifically
- Work at height must be properly planned and organised for safety.
- People working at height must be competent to do so safely.
- The risks must be assessed taking into account all factors including: – the height (and consequence of a fall) – how frequently the work will be undertaken – the duration of the work – evacuation and/or rescue – suspension trauma – fragile surfaces that could lead to a fall (on roofs, for example). Many people think that Health and Safety regulations mean it’s not acceptable to carry out work from a ladder. This is frequently not the case and work can safely be undertaken from a ladder as long as certain conditions are met, such as:
- The ladder is only used for low-risk, short-duration work.
- The ladder is properly placed at an angle of 75º (one unit out for every four units up).
- Three points of contact are maintained with the ladder (for example both feet plus one hand).
- Items are not held when climbing (for example tool belts can be used).
- The Work at Height Regulations (WAH) and Amendment were introduced because of a reduced tolerance to risk at work.
- In most cases the necessary work at height requirements should be met by inspection by our Engineer Surveyors.
- In special cases contracting parties should liaise with one another to plan ways to mitigate risk from working at height.