Guide

Work safely at height or in a confined space

Assess the risks of working at height

You must consider the risks of working at height as part of your overall health and safety risk assessment.

Look at the risk of all falls in your business. You need to take precautions where anyone might fall a distance that could cause personal injury.

Injuries are often caused by falls from:

  • ladders
  • incomplete scaffolding
  • roofs and roof edges - particularly fragile roofs
  • gangways and catwalks
  • vehicles
  • fragile roofllights

The poor selection, use and maintenance of equipment can lead to falls. For example, using a ladder because it's easier than erecting a tower scaffold can be dangerous. Workers should only use ladders for low risk, short duration work, eg work which takes minutes not hours to complete.

As well as the risks posed by the work at height itself, consider those caused by falling objects and by accessing the work location. For example, climbing on and off a roof or using ladders can pose significant risks.

Employer responsibilities

Employers, the self-employed managers and supervisors have a legal duty to ensure:

  • all work at height is properly planned
  • those working at height are competent or supervised
  • the risks of working on or near fragile surfaces are properly controlled
  • equipment for working at height is properly inspected and maintained

Reduce the risks

You must avoid work at height where possible. Workers must use equipment to prevent or minimise the consequences of falls where working at height is the only option. Equipment may include preventative measures like scaffolds and mobile elavated work platforms (MEWPs), such as cherry pickers. You should only consider using personal protection equipment, eg work restraints, to minimise the consequences of a fall when collective preventive measures are not possible.