The key issues covered by the legislation are summarised as follows:
• The ‘duty-holder’ is responsible for following the hierarchy for managing risks from work at height – taking steps to avoid, prevent or reduce risks. The risk assessment and the action taken should be proportionate to the harm that could occur.
• The definition of working at height is defined as ‘all work activities where there is a need to control a risk of falling a distance liable to cause personal injury.’ This means that if there is a chance of a fall of any distance the duty-holder must show that everything has been done to minimise the risk.
• The duty-holder must make sure the equipment specified is suitable for the particular use envisaged. The relevant standards that govern equipment are on page 5.
• Inspection and maintenance are required to ensure that equipment is safe to use. The maintenance schedule will depend on the equipment, the conditions in which it is used and the maufacturers’ instructions.
Who is responsible for fall protection?
Legislation has sought to identify the key participants in any project and define their role as duty-holder in providing adequate fall protection (See diagram above).
What does the legislation say?
In April 2005 the HSC published the revised Working at Height Regulations (WAHR). These regulations bring together the relevant parts of the Construction (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1996 (WHSWR), the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 and the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 1994 (CDM). These regulations all have references to working at height, however until April 2005 they were inconsistent. All references now come under WAHR.
The WAHR also implement the European Community Temporary Work at Height Directive (2001/45/EC), which is the second amendment to EC Directive (1989/655/EEC) on the provision and use of work equipment.
The legislation recognises that fall protection specifics are difficult to determine and hence legislate for. It allows some flexibility in interpretation and guidance but those responsible for providing adequate fall protection must be able to demonstrate that they have minimised risk, specified suitable equipment, considered the ability of the user and appreciated the conditions in which the system is likely to be used. The duty-holder must have evidence that these issues have been considered and addressed in the risk assessment.
Are you responsible?
The answer could well be ‘Yes’. According to the health and safety legislation these people are ‘duty-holders’ – responsible for ensuring adequate fall protection and potentially liable in the event of an accident.
What you need to do
The official advice to duty-holders can be summarised as follows:
• Avoid work at height, where possible.
• When working at height is essential, ensure that workers are not exposed to unnecessary risks.
• Where it is not possible to eliminate the risk of falling, use a suitable fall protection system to minimise the consequences of a fall.
The above statement from the UK’s Health and Safety Commission (HSC) is echoed around the world.
Fall protection is now a primary concern in any building project whether it is a new build, refurbishment or ongoing maintenance. The concentration of effort by the key authorities is to ensure suitable fall protection methodology is being followed and integrated into design and working practices.
© Pinnacle Safety Group. All rights reserved.
Telephone 01636 707 619
Working at Height Regs 2005
Legislation and Health & Safety