Planning work at height: part one

Posted 23 Feb 2018

Working at height is a hugely dangerous, but often necessary, activity. The work at height hierarchy states that where possible, you should carry out any work from the ground.

When this is not possible, all efforts must be made by those with the responsibility to ensure any work carried out is as safe as can be. There are many facets to properly planning work at height, including auditing and risk assessment, and over the next couple of blogs we will be taking an in-depth look into how to plan work at height comprehensively and safely.


Work at Height Policy

The first port of call when carrying out work at height should be to develop a work at height policy. This policy may be as simple as stating that you don’t do work at height, though considering the vast definition of ‘work at height’, it’s more likely than not you will need to perform risky work at some point.

As part of this policy, you should look at how employees, contractors, visitors and members of the public could be affected by work carried out. The policy should be a strategic document which establishes work at height procedures and controls which may be introduced.

In this document, you should also clearly define all roles and responsibilities, such as senior managers being responsible for ensuring all contractors are competent enough to work at height.

Work at Height Audit

Following the creation of your policy document, you should then carry out a work at height audit. These cover all relevant procedures and may include:

  • Risk Assessments. Are they completed, relevant to the specific task and reviewed regularly?

  • Inspections. Is equipment inspected, are inspection sheets and reports completed?

  • Maintenance. If access equipment is used, is it maintained and records kept?

  • Ladders. Is there a ladder register, is it up to date, are ladders individually tagged and inspection sheets updated?

  • Lanyards and harnesses. Is there a register, is it up to date, are items individually identifiable, are inspection sheets up to date, are users properly trained and are emergency/rescue procedures in place?

  • Training. Are all relevant personnel trained in equipment being used, are they trained in height awareness and rescue, and is all training up to date?

Once you have your policy and audit in place, you will need to ensure that risk assessments are carried out for individual tasks which require work at height.

Assessing individual tasks

However, if a contractor is carrying out the work, you should require them to provide you with a suitable and sufficient risk assessment alongside a method statement of their own. You should always ask contractors if they are competent enough to do the work, and back this up by requesting relevant documents, such as:

  • Relevant insurance details

  • Health and safety policy

  • Training records for the task and equipment being used

  • Maintenance and inspection records for the equipment being used

When you are happy with your own, or where applicable, the contractor's risk assessment and method statement, then you are ready to start the work. However, the importance of vigilance and your responsibilities do not stop there.

In the next part of our planning work at height blog, we will take a look at dynamic risk assessments. With the inherent dangers of work at height, it is imperative that assessing risk becomes an ongoing process.

A dynamic risk assessment before work starts will help ensure that circumstances have not shifted or changed since the original assessment was carried out.

If you want to find out more about planning work at height, or would like to make an enquiry about a project, give us a call at Steadfast Anglia on 01473 834 144, or use our contact form.

by Carolyn Campbell

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