Work at height

Information and guidance on safe practice when working at height in the cleaning industry.

See also guidance on window cleaning.

There are many examples within the cleaning industry of accidents involving working at height, for example: whilst working on stepladders, overstretching from ladders whilst window cleaning, standing on benches or chairs to clean high surfaces. With a little planning and by using competent people (who have the right experience and training) and the right equipment, these accidents could have been avoided.

What you must do

The law

Work at Height Regulations 2005 (as amended)  place duties on employers, the self-employed, and any person that controls the work of others (for example facilities managers or building owners who may contract others to work at height).

As part of the Regulations, duty holders must ensure:

  • all work at height is properly planned and organised;
  • those involved in work at height are competent;
  • the risks from work at height are assessed and appropriate work equipment is selected and used;
  • the risks from fragile surfaces are properly controlled; and
  • equipment for work at height is properly inspected and maintained.

There is a simple hierarchy for managing and selecting equipment for work at height. Duty holders must:

  • avoid work at height where they can;
  • use work equipment or other measures to prevent falls where they cannot avoid working at height; and
  • where they cannot eliminate the risk of a fall, use work equipment or other measures to minimise the distance and consequences of a fall should one occur.

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Updated 2023-11-14