October 2005 saw the introduction of the Work at Height Regulations. The regulations have completely changed everyone’s perception of what working at height actually is. For example, prior to 2005 most construction companies used the construction regulations to determine what if any control measures needed to be put in place. The ‘2 metre rule’ applied on building sites. What this meant was that any unprotected work place that was 2 metres or more above ground level need some form of edge protection such as a guardrail. A scaffold tower would be mostly used in the case and a PASMA Scaffold Tower Training Course would need to be done.
However, the introduction of the Work at Height Regulations abandoned the concept of the 2 metre rule in favour of a more prescriptive measure. Working at height is now defined as any place whether above, below or at ground level where a person may injure themselves if they fell from that place. In other words, you could be climbing a pair of step ladders and slip off the first rung causing a serious injury. Clearly, this would not be over 2 metres but could still result in a very nasty injury. In fact, there is documented evidence that some of the most serious accidents resulting in serious injury occur at very low levels. Another instance of working at height at or near ground level would be working alongside a swimming pool; possibly the water has been drained to carry out maintenance. Should you slip, lose your balance or fall over the edge there are certain to be serious consequences.
So now we are aware of what ‘working at height’ actually is, how do we prevent accidents from actually occurring?
There is within the regulations a reference to the ‘hierarchy of measures’ when working at height.
This basically says the following:
1) Avoid work at height
2) If you can’t avoid working at height, make sure you work off something that’s impossible to fall off
3) If you can’t guarantee that you won’t fall make sure you mitigate the consequences
So, point 1 is fairly easy to understand but not always possible or practical. Point 2 is ok as long as you have the room to build a scaffold tower for example but point 3 needs some explanation:
A risk assessment needs to be completed for each job to determine the suitability of the equipment selected. Also important is completing relevant training. A PASMA Training Course will cover risk assessment and inspection procedures for scaffold towers. An IPAF Training Course would be essential for anyone wishing to use powered access and ladder training courses are also available.