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How to manage the risks

When planning work at height you need to carry out a 'risk assessment'. This should supplement your overall health and safety risk assessment.

You don't need to overcomplicate the process. The risks for working at height are usually well known and most necessary control measures are easy to apply.

The law does not expect you to eliminate all risk, but you are required to protect people by minimising risk as far as 'reasonably practicable'.

A risk assessment is simply

  • a careful examination of the work at height task to identify hazards and
  • a consideration of whether the hazards pose a risk that could cause harm to people.

Workers and others have a right to be protected from harm caused by a failure to take reasonable control measures.

You should always consider whether you have taken enough precautions or should do more to prevent harm.

If you have to work at height

  • Use an existing safe place of work to access work at height - don't cut corners, if there is already a safe means of access such as a permanent stair and guardrailed platform use it!
  • Provide or use work equipment to prevent falls, such as scaffolding , mobile access towers or mobile elevating work platforms (MEWPs) which have guardrails around the working platform.
  • Minimise distance and consequences of a fall, for example by using a properly set up stepladder or ladder within its limitations for low level, short duration work only.

Please note this toolkit deals with access equipment to help you get to places to carry out work - nets and airbags are not access equipment and are not listed in the access equipment table.

For more advice go to:

How to select the right access equipment