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RR268 - Developing a prototype decision aid for determining the risk of work systems at height when using temporary access systems

Access to height has associated risks of falls of people and objects that can arise due to structural and procedural inadequacies. Previous research suggests that the basic risks are not sufficiently controlled across industry, and that the injury rate in work requiring access to height is disproportionately high. One method of supporting safe practices when working at height is the provision of prescriptive guidelines in a readily accessible format for workers at all levels involved with the work. Decision aids are one means of presenting information. The research described in this report aimed to develop and test appropriate decision aids for people involved in temporary access to height.

The analysis of a large sample of accidents and incidents occurring during work at height, and which were reported to the HSE over the last ten years, is described. This analysis provided information on the rootcauses of the incidents as well as the more distal causes preceding the event, such as safety management deficiencies. Two work systems emerged as particularly well represented in the statistics in terms of absolute numbers of cases; these were temporary access scaffolds and work on roofs.

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Updated 2010-03-19