There are three steps you should always consider before working at height:
1) Eliminate risk from the work -
Can you eliminate the need to work at height? (E.g. Carry out the task working from ground-level)
2) Guard the user from accessing hazard -
If not, can you prevent personnel from accessing the danger area? (E.g. install a guardrail system)
3) Protect worker against the hazard -
If not, can a system be used to minimise the consequences of a fall? (E.g. install a fall-arrest system)
The risk of falling when working at height needs to be assessed to determine whether it is safe or not to carry out work without additional safety systems or equipment.
Assess the hazard against the following aspects:
• What are the risks?
• How serious could the result be of an injury?
• What is the likelihood of the injury occurring?
• Decide on precautions needed to reduce or eliminate the risk
• Record significant findings, and
• Review the assessment as required
This should not be overcomplicated, but ensure all significant aspects are covered.
If the Risk Assessment reveals no further safety measures are required then works can proceed as normal.
Knowledge base - How to assess the risks of working at height
Knowledge base - How to control the risks in your workplace
That’s a difficult question because there is no ‘yes’, ‘no’ table which tells you the exact answer for each situation. However, height safety regulations do state specific areas which must be considered, which in turn can help to determine the risk level.
• If you are working closer than 2m to a fall-risk zone safety measures should be put in place, for example guardrail, scaffolding, fall-arrest systems, or even demarcation barriers. Each system has different benefits and uses meaning every situation must be considered on its own merits.
• On most pitched roofs where your chances of slipping or sliding could put you in a fall-risk area. These are commonly overcome with the use of walkway and fall-arrest wire systems.
Prevention of an operative from going into a free fall by way of rigid barrier or similar protection medium
Prevention of the user of fall protection equipment from going into a free fall
Note: a fall arrest system will not prevent a fall but should minimise the risk of injury in the event of a fall
(Please note, work positioning is neither classed as fall arrest or work restraint)