Work at height: preventing falls

What you need to do...

The law covers all work activities where people could fall and injure themselves. The duties are on employers, the self-employed and others who have control over work at height. You must make sure work at height is properly planned, supervised and carried out by people who are competent to do the job. The key issues are:

What you need to know...

Falls are the second highest cause of death in agriculture – every year at least eight people die falling from a height. Those who survive suffer broken bones and worse. Falls often happen from roofs, lofts, ladders, vehicles, bale stacks, and unsuitable access equipment, such as buckets. These accidents and injuries cause you pain and cost your farm time and money. Most fall injuries can be avoided.

The law says you need to follow these rules in this order:

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Working on roofs

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Working on or passing near to fragile roofing material

You will need to provide protection when anyone passes by or works nearer than 2 m to fragile materials, eg during access along valley gutters in a fragile roof, when an otherwise non-fragile roof contains fragile roof lights, or during access to working areas on a fragile roof.

You should:

If it is not reasonably practicable to provide such protection:

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Working on glasshouse roofs

to avoid working at height in glasshouses by, for example:

If you cannot avoid working at height, then prevent falls by planning this work properly.

If possible, reduce the risks by, for example:

If access onto the roof is unavoidable, safe systems of work will be needed:

If the glasshouse will not support this weight, other equipment should then be used, such as:

The equipment used will depend on the type of glasshouse, the width of the gutter and the job to be done. All equipment should be properly designed, constructed and maintained, and ride-on trolleys and balancing frames should be:

Be careful about snagging trouser legs on glazing bars. Tuck trouser bottoms into boots or socks or wear trousers with elasticated bottoms.

Glasshouse manufacturers should be able to give advice about suitable access equipment for particular glasshouse types, eg those with almost flush glazing bars, which can make positioning ladders etc difficult.

Working on vehicles

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Working with bales: loading trailers and stacking

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Work platforms on fork-lift trucks

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ladder placed on a board to prevent it sinking into soft ground and tied to stop it slipping

This ladder is placed on a board to prevent it sinking into soft ground and tied to stop it slipping.