Working at height is a dangerous job; it’s one of the main causes of injury and fatalities in the construction industry here in the UK. Due to the number of accidents the HSE have introduced laws and regulations that need to be understood and followed. One of these laws requires workers on construction sites to be competent before they head up the ladder or operating the mobile access platform. You need to follow these regulations and laws if you own a construction business or if you’re self-employed, so who’s considered to be a competent person?
Should I be Working at Height?
In order to be considered a competent person you need to be experienced, know what you’re doing and have any appropriate qualifications in spotting risks. The person should have suitable training for the work they are carrying out at height and to use the particular equipment being used, which could include:
- Ladders or step ladders
- Mobile platforms
- Net riggers
It is down to the manager, business owner, or the self-employed person, to ensure that anyone working at height is adequately trained and competent to perform the task.
What’s the Law Regarding Work at Height?
When working at height you need to be in compliance with the Work at height Regulations 2005. These regulations apply whenever anyone is working at a height, where there is a risk of the individual being injured should they fall. There are set duties within the regulations that must be followed and managed on site by the employer, the self-employed and anyone in charge of others such as managers. It’s essential that you know the regulations which include:
- All work at height has to be planned and organised in advance
- Each person needs to be competent
- A risk assessment needs to be completed
- Suitable equipment chosen based on the risk assessment findings
- Work equipment should be inspected and well-maintained
- Any work on or near fragile surfaces must be properly managed
You should also be aware that working at height should be avoided unless it’s absolutely necessary. When possible all work needs to be completed on the ground but when this isn’t possible the use of work equipment and safety measures must be implemented to prevent falls and to minimise the distance of the fall.
Training is a Vital Part of Health and Safety
It is essential that you are aware of how to conduct health and safety assessments and to recognise when others in your employee require training to work at height. Competence shouldn’t be assumed, you must be able to prove the training you’ve given each individual and ensure their training is kept up to date as the regulations and laws are frequently changing.
Training is an expense you can’t afford to ignore. If you do you could end up with a larger fine and face prosecution from the HSE. When lives are at risk you must take the necessary action. You can find affordable and appropriate health and safety training by visiting the Lifterz website.
The author is a health and safety journalist and blogger with over 4 years’ experience. During his career he has gained a wealth of knowledge and experience that he shares through his articles and guest blog posts. You can read more of his health and safety articles and news online.