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      • Published 18 Apr 2023
      • Last Modified 4 Sept 2023
    • 6 min

    A Guide to the Working at Height Regulations

    Explore the UK Working at Height Regulations - legal protocols for any work that takes place at height. They cover anyone who is responsible for the work of others and require a risk assessment, training, suitable equipment, and emergency plans.

    Working at height can be dangerous if appropriate precautions are not taken. The Working at Height Regulations 2005 (WAHR) were introduced in the United Kingdom to protect those who work at height. This guide will provide an overview of the WAHR and explain how to ensure a safe working environment. Read on to explore risk assessments, equipment selection, and emergency procedures when you or your employees are working at a height.

    What are the Working at Height Regulations in the UK?

    The Working at Height Regulations were introduced in the UK in 2005 to govern work where there is a risk of an injury caused by falling. The regulations apply to any work that takes place at height, including construction, maintenance, and repair work. 

    The aim of the WAHR is to prevent deaths and injuries caused by falls from height and to ensure that those who work at height are properly trained and equipped to do so safely. 

    The regulations require employers to take a risk-based approach to working at height: 

    • Identifying the risks associated with working at height
    • Assessing the risks and taking appropriate measures to prevent falls
    • Providing safe equipment and training for those who work at height
    • Having emergency procedures in place in case of an accident
    • Informing and training employees about the risks and hazards of working at height
    • Inspecting and maintaining equipment properly

    Employers should also appoint a person to be responsible for the management and supervision of work at height. They should make employees aware of their own responsibilities along with providing the appropriate training, information and guidance.

    Who do the Working at Height Regulations Apply to?

    The Working at Height Regulations 2005 (WAHR) apply to any person who controls the work of others, including: 

    • Employers
    • Self-employed individuals
    • Contractors
    • Facilities managers, building owners, and landlords

    The regulations apply to all types of work that take place where there is a risk of injury caused by falling, including: 

    • Construction
    • Maintenance
    • Repair work
    • Cleaning
    • Inspection
    • Demolition

    It applies to both indoor and outdoor work, and to any height where there is a risk of a fall, including falls from a lower level such as a platform or through a fragile roof. It also applies to falls into water or any other substance. It’s important to note that the regulations apply to all work activities, regardless of the duration of the work or the size of the company, and that failure to comply with the regulations can result in significant fines and criminal prosecution. 

    What Do I Need to Do to Comply with the Work at Height Regulations?

    To comply with the Working at Height Regulations 2005 (WAHR) in the UK, the following actions must be taken: 

    • Assess the hazards and risks associated with working at height in your particular workplace
    • Take appropriate measures to prevent falls by selecting and maintaining appropriate equipment
    • Provide safe equipment and training for those who work at height
    • Create a plan in case of an emergency, and train employees to handle emergency situations
    • Appoint a person to be responsible for the management of work at height.
    • Regularly Inspect and maintain equipment
    • Keep records of the risk assessment, equipment inspection, maintenance and employee training

    Working with Step Ladders

    Working safely with step ladders involves following a set of guidelines to minimise the risk of falls and injuries. Here are some key actions to take when working with step ladders: 

    • Use the right ladder for the job
    • Inspect the ladder before use, checking for any damage or defects
    • Set up the ladder correctly: Place the ladder on a level surface, and make sure the feet are fully extended and locked
    • Use the ladder properly: Always face the ladder when climbing. Keep your body centred between the side rails, and maintain three points of contact at all times (two feet and one hand, or two hands and one foot)
    • Secure the ladder: If the ladder is being used in a public area, or if there is a risk of it being knocked over, secure it to a solid anchor point
    • Train employees on how to use and maintain step ladders

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    Working with Harnesses

    Working at height with harnesses can be a safe and effective way to protect yourself from falls, but it is important to use the harnesses correctly and follow proper safety procedures. Here are some key steps to take when working at height with harnesses: 

    • Ensure the harness is appropriate for the task at hand and that it is properly sized for the person wearing it
    • Check the harness for frayed webbing, missing or broken buckles, or other signs of wear and tear. Make sure the harness is in good working condition before use
    • Ensure the harness is adjusted so that it fits properly, with the straps and buckles adjusted to the correct tension. The chest strap should be positioned at the centre of the chest, and the leg straps should be worn snugly but not too tight
    • Attach to a secure anchor point
    • Do not exceed the weight capacity of the harness and make sure that the harness is not twisted
    • Use a fall arrest system that includes a full body harness and an energy-absorbing lanyard or self-retracting lifeline

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    Working at Height Risk Assessment

    A risk assessment should highlight all potential risks to ensure they are identified and assessed appropriately.

    1. Purpose of the assessment and what it should cover: Determine the area or activity that you are assessing and the purpose of the assessment
    2. Hazards: Identify all hazards associated with the activity or zone/area it’s taking place
    3. Likelihood: Assess how likely it is that the hazard will occur and the possible effects if it does
    4. Risk level: Based on the likelihood of each hazard, determine the overall level of risk associated with the activity or area
    5. Control measures: Identify measures that can be implemented to control or reduce the risks identified. This may involve actioning controls, administrative actions, engineering changes or personal protective equipment
    6. Document the assessment: Document the results of the risk assessment, including the hazards identified, the risk level, and the control measures recommended
    7. Review and update: Regularly review and update the risk assessment to ensure that it remains current and reflects any changes in the activity or area being assessed

    By following these steps, you can construct a thorough and effective risk assessment that helps to protect people and prevent accidents or incidents.

    Further Reading