What your employer should do to prevent accidents while working at height

Last updated: 04 Mar 2020

When planning a task that is likely to involve work at height, employers or those in control of the job must carry out a risk assessment, which will help them to keep people safe.

Before work at height starts, employers must follow three steps:

  • Avoid work at height where possible. It might be that the task, or parts of it, can be carried out while standing on the ground, such as by using extending tools or by lowering equipment to the ground.
  • Where work at height cannot be avoided, prevent falls using either an existing place of work that is already safe or the right type of equipment, such as a work platform.
  • If the risk of a fall cannot be avoided, employers must minimise the distance and consequences of a fall by using the right type of equipment. Measures that protect a number of workers, such as safety nets and air bags, should be given priority over individual equipment, such as harnesses.

If the task is low risk and short duration, a ladder or a stepladder could be the best piece of equipment to carry out the job. However, they should not normally be used for more than 30 minutes at a time. In these cases, an alternative piece of equipment should be used.

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