Work safely at height or in a confined space

Reduce the risks of objects falling from height


When people are working at height you must consider the risk of objects falling onto somebody or something below.

Any hand-held equipment such as drills or saws can be dropped or knocked over the edge of a platform or walkway. Materials such as nails, pieces of wood and debris can also represent a significant hazard.

Key steps to prevent objects falling

Follow these key steps to reduce the risks:

  • For work over public areas, a double-boarded platform with a polythene sheet in between the boards prevents small items such as nails and bolts from falling.
  • Platforms should be made so that materials or objects can't fall and cause injury to anyone or anything below. Close-boarded platforms are usually safe enough.
  • On scaffolding and tower scaffolds consider using brick guards, netting or other suitable protection to prevent materials falling.
  • Toe boards also prevent anyone kicking items off the edge of platforms.
  • Providing a covered walkway is another way to protect people below.
  • If you're using a cradle, harness or mobile elevated working platform, use mesh or netting underneath the equipment to prevent anything falling.
  • Covered chutes are an effective and quick method of removing debris from work areas. This is much safer than throwing items over the side of a platform into a skip below.
  • Tools such as drills and trowels can be attached to safety lines. If they're accidentally dropped, the line prevents them falling below the work area.
  • Remember that bad weather can cause difficulties for outdoor work, with wind blowing materials and equipment off platforms. If the weather is particularly severe, you may have to stop work to prevent putting people at risk.