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The Work at Height Regulations 2005 (WAHR) consolidate previous legislation concerning minimum safety and health requirements for the use of equipment for work at height and define Work at Height as follows:

Work in any place, including a place at or below ground level including obtaining access to or egress from such place of work, except by means of staircase in a permanent workplace, where if measures required by the Regulations were not taken, a person could fall a distance liable to cause personal injury.

One of the key issues outlined in the consultation document was the requirement for WAHR to extend the existing provisions beyond ‘construction’ work to a wider range of other sectors and activities, for example window cleaning, other industrial cleaning and maintenance, container top working in docks, working on the back of a lorry, erecting bill posters and arboricultural activities.

Consequently the regulations 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 to the extent of their control (for example facilities managers or building owners who may contract others to work at height).

The Regulations require duty holders to ensure:

  • 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 include Schedules giving requirements for existing places of work and means of access for work at height, collective fall prevention, collective fall arrest, personal fall protection and ladders.

Hierarchy of Control

There are three key stages to be considered with regard to worker safety at height:

1. Eliminate The Risk
Design out any potential hazard i.e. locate plant and equipment in safe locations where there is no risk of a fall.

2. Guard the Hazard
Where it is not possible to design out the hazard, ensure the worker is not exposed to the hazard i.e. provide a parapet or guardrail to eliminate the fall hazard.

3. Protect the Worker - Where access is required and there is exposure to a hazard, a fall restraint solution should be specified. In this case the system location and lanyard length prevents the worker reaching the hazard and therefore prevents a fall. Where access exposes the worker to a fall, a fall arrest system must be specified.

Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 (CDM)

The updated Regulations continue to place duties on all those who can contribute to the health and safety of a construction project i.e. clients, designers, contractors and planning supervisors, requiring the production of certain documents, the health and safety plan and the health and safety file.

Specifically the designer’s duties include the avoidance of risk to people:

  • carrying out construction work
  • cleaning & maintaining
  • using a structure as a place of work
  • demolition & dismantling
  • others who may be affected by the above

The main changes in the 2007 Regulations were made to simplify the existing system by unifying CDM and the Construction (Health, Safety & Welfare) Regulations 1996 into a single package. Additionally there is a more explicit duty on architects to eliminate hazards and reduce risks during the design stage as far as is reasonably practicable, plus there is a new duty to ensure that workplaces comply with Construction (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations. 

Health and Safety in Roof Work (Booklet HSG 33)

This document provides guidance on how to work safely on roofs and how to design and plan for safe working. It covers new buildings, repair, maintenance, cleaning work and demolition.