There are three considerations you should always ask before working at height:
1) Avoidance - eliminate the risk
Can you eliminate the need to work at height? (E.g. Carry out the task working from ground-level or access to high level is not required)
2) Fall Prevention - guard the user from accessing hazard
If not, can you prevent personnel from accessing the danger area using collective protection? (E.g. install a guardrail system, or a demarcation barrier to create a specified safe walking route)
Read the regulations on collective fall protection here
3) Minimse The Fall Risk - provide fall-arrest equipment to minimise and arrest the fall should it occurIf not, can you use personal fall protection equipment to prevent or minimise the consequences of a fall? (E.g. install a fall-arrest or fall-restraint lifeline system).Read the regulations on personal fall protection here
The risk of falling from height must be assessed to determine whether the required work can be carried out in the proposed manner, and whether sufficient safety measures have been put in place. Remember, the duty holder is responsible for authorising or denying work at height to be carried out. Do you know enough to know what is safe?
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)