Working Safely at Height
Legal Requirements and Guidance
Falls from height are among the most common causes of serious work related injuries and deaths. Many employers are unaware of their obligations when it comes to fall protection.
The first priority must always be to “design out” the need to work at height. If this is not possible then the next requirement is to provide a collective or non user participant solution or, if this is not practical, to provide personal or user participant solutions. Failing that, the final measure is to provide demarcation for the area at a suitable distance – at least 2m from the edge where the work is being carried out.
Other factors will also affect the final product solution; these may include:
- Frequency of access and duration (carrying out an activity twice a year is frequent)
- Risk assesment (statistically there are far more reported injuries to workers below 2m in height than above)
- Minimum height consideration
- Pendulum effect
- Building structure
- Planning issues
Kee Safety's Fall Protection systems are legislation led and comply with the relevant EN or OSHA regulations. Below is a shot guide to legislation, standards and guidance whcih should be considered when assessing the individual needs and then recommending and installing the product solution.
UK and European Legislation
Health and Safety at work act 1974
The Health and Safety at work act 1974 imposes general duties on every person involved in the design, construction and post construction use of any structure, as well as all workplaces.
The Health and Safety at work act 1974 is an enabling act meaning it is the law and enables other regulations to be made and enforced under it. There is a considerable amount of legislation here which is in a state of constant update and change.
The Health and Safety at work act 1974 states that it is the responsibility of the employer (or self employed person) to ensure, where practicable, the health, safety & welfare of all persons involved in the construction and use of a work place.
The most relevant of the regulations under the Health and Safety at work act 1974 for the construction industry are:
1. The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.
2. The Workplace (Health, Safety & Welfare) Regulations 1992
3. The Construction (Health, Safety & Welfare) Regulations 1992
4. Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007
5. The Personal Protective equipment (PPE) Regulations 2002
6. The Work at Height Regulations 2005
The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999
These regulations came into force on the 29th December 1999 and set out broad general duties which apply to almost all work activities in Great Britain and offshore. They are aimed mainly at improving health and safety management, and lay down a more explicit requirement as outlined under the HSW Act 1974. Regulation 3 requires employers to assess the risks to health and safety so as to ensure that the necessary preventative and protective measures can be identified and regulation 4 requires that the employer ensures that the principles of prevention are applied.
European Directive 89/656/CEE
According to the European directive 89/656/CEE, the employer or company responsible must put fall protection measures in place for persons working at height. The employer should try to minimise the risk through design or engineering controls and provide measures to prevent falls. If this is not feasible then other protective measures should be considered, such as personal fall protection equipment and systems.
EU Directive 89/686/EEC
It covers the specific conditions required to place into the European market and the basic safety requirements of all PPE. To show compliance products are CE Marked by a notified body.
Section 8 of the Regulations requires that PPE may not be placed on the market unless:
• It satisfies basic health and safety requirements
• An appropriate conformity assessment procedure has been carried out
• The CE mark has been affixed to it
• When properly maintained and used for its intended purpose it does not compromise the safety of the user.
Working at Height Regulations (WaHR) 2005
Introduced in 2005 the Working at Height Regulations (WaHR) replace all the earlier regulations, consolidate previous legislation on working at height and implement European Council Directive 2001/45/EC concerning minimum safety and health requirements for the use of equipment for working at height (the Temporary Work at Height Directive).
One of the major differences from the existing regulations is that it removed the "6 feet rule" which stated the minimum height where workers required fall protection and instead defines that a place is "at height" if a person could be injured falling from it, even if it is at or below ground level.
The regulations place duties on employers, the self-employed, and any person who controls the work of others (e.g. facilities managers or building owners who may contract others to work at height) to ensure:
1. All work at height is properly planned and organised
2. Those involved in work at height are competent
3. All risks from work at height are assessed and appropriate work equipment is selected and used
4. The risks from fragile surfaces are properly controlled
5. Equipment for work at height is properly inspected and maintained.
The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007
As with the original 1994 legislation, 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:
1. Carrying Out Construction Work
2. Cleaning & Maintaining
3. Using A Structure As A Place Of Work
4. Demolition & Dismantling
5. 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.
The Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Regulations 2002
These regulations set out principles for selecting, providing, maintaining and using personal protective equipment (PPE). PPE is defined as "all equipment which is intended to be worn or held by a person at work and which protects him against one or more risks to his health and safety". This includes most types of protective clothing, and equipment such as eye, foot and head protection, safety harnesses, life jackets and high visibility clothing.
The regulations require that "suitable" PPE is both suitable for the user and the risk against which it provides protection. PPE will only be considered suitable if:
1. It takes account of the risks and working conditions;
2. It takes account of the workers needs and fits properly;
3. It gives adequate protection;
4. It is compatible with all other PPE being used.
The regulations demand that the user and the employer (where different) are responsible for maintaining the PPE in a efficient state, according to the manufacturers regulations.
When working to achieve fall protection compliance, two different resources come into play:
1. OSHA regulations are the law - essentially the bare minimum thresholds that must be met to avoid penalty.
2. Consensus standards published by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) provide a more current and thorough view of how to plan, implement and manage a fall protection program.
OSHA has revised its construction industry safety standards and developed systems and procedures designed to prevent employees from falling off, onto, or through working levels (Federal Register, August 0, 1994, pp. 40672-40753).
The rule identifies the areas or activities where fall protection is needed. These include, but not limited to, ramps, runways, and aother walkways; excavations; hoist areas; holes; formwork and reinforcing steel; leading edge work; unprotected siedes and edges; roofing work; wall openings. This means that construction employers must protect their employees from fall hazards whenever an affected employee si 6 feet (1.8m) or more above a lower level.
Fall protection generally can be provided through the sue of guardrail systems, safety net systems, personal fall arrest systems, positioning device systems, and warning line systems, among others.
The OSHA rule clarifies what an employer must do to provide fall protection for employees, such as identifying and evaluating fall hazards and providing specific training.
Download the OSHA Construction Pocket Guide (3252-05N, 2005).
- A1264.1-2007, Safety Requirements for Workplace Walking/Working Surfaces and Their Access; Workplace Floor, Wall and Roof Openings; Stairs and Guardrail Systems. Sets forth safety requirements for areas where danger exists of persons or objects falling through floor or wall openings, platforms, runways, ramps, and fixed stairs, in normal, temporary, and emergency conditions. This standard applies to industrial and workplace situations and is not intended to apply to construction, residential, or commercial occupancies except where necessary maintenance or work station access may be required.
- A10.32-2004, Fall Protection Systems for Construction and Demolitions Operations. Establishes performance criteria for personal fall protection equipment and systems in construction and demolition and provides guidelines, recommendations for their use and inspection.
- ANSI/IWCA 1-14.1-2001, Window Cleaning Safety. International Window Cleaning Association (IWCA). Serves as a guide for window cleaners, regulatory agencies, manufacturers, architects, consultants, designers and building owners. Part A focuses on safety guidelines for the use of window cleaning access equipment. Part B is geared toward those who manufacture, distribute, design, install or maintain the equipment.
- Z359.1-1992 (R1999), Safety Requirements for Personal Fall Arrest Systems, Subsystems and Component. Establishes requirements for the performance, design, marking, qualification, instruction, training, inspection, use, maintenance, and removal from service of connectors, full body harnesses, lanyards, energy absorbers, anchorage connectors, fall arresters, vertical lifelines, and self-retracting lanyards comprising personal fall arrest systems for users within the capacity range of 130 to 310 pounds (59 to 140 kg).