What are the risks with working at height?

Last updated: 04 Mar 2020

Falling from a height is one of the primary causes of workplace fatality and major injury. Work at height is usually defined as work in any place where, if there were no precautions in place, a person could fall a distance that could cause injury. 

This could include working on a fragile roof, on a ladder, or even through a hole in the floor. The height at which the work takes place does not need to be great to cause injury.

There are around 43,000 incidents involving work at height each year. Nearly half lead to the worker being injured so that they have to take three or more days off work. In 2016, there were 25 fatalities caused by falling from height.


All work at height is risky, but working on a roof is especially so. Falls from roofs, through fragile roofs and roof lights are one of the most common causes of workplace death and serious injury. 

The following are likely to be fragile:

  • roof lights
  • liner panels on built-up sheeted roofs
  • non-reinforced fibre cement sheets
  • corroded metal sheets
  • glass (including wired glass)
  • slates and tiles.

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