Tougher rules for work at height

New regulations covering work at height will come into force on 6 April 2005, the Health and Safety Commission (HSC) announced today.

The Work at Height Regulations 2005 consolidate previous legislation about working at height and will implement European Council Directive 2001/45/EC concerning minimum safety and health requirements for the use of equipment for work at height (the Temporary Work at Height Directive or TWAHD).

The regulations will apply to all work at height where there is a risk of a fall liable to cause personal injury. They place duties on employers, the self-employed, and any person that controls the work of others.

The regulations will require duty holders to ensure that:

  • all work at height is properly planned and organised
  • those involved in work at height are competent
  • the risks from work at height are assessed and appropriate work equipment is selected and used
  • the risks from fragile surfaces are properly controlled
  • equipment for work at height is properly inspected and maintained.

The regulations set out a simple hierarchy for managing and selecting equipment for work at height.

Duty holders must avoid work at height where they can, and use work equipment or other measures to prevent falls where they cannot avoid working at height.

Where they cannot eliminate the risk of a fall, duty holders need to use work equipment or other measures to minimise the distance and consequences of a fall should one occur.

Elizabeth Gibby, head of the Health and Safety Executive’s Injuries Reduction Programme, said: “In 2003-4 falls from height accounted for 67 fatal accidents at work and nearly 4,000 major injuries.

“They remain the single biggest cause of workplace deaths and one of the biggest causes of major injury.”

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