The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) defines ‘Work at height’ as work in any place where, if there were no precautions in place, a person could fall a distance liable to cause personal injury (for example a fall through a fragile roof). And according to HSE, working at height remains one of the biggest causes of fatalities and major injuries.

So, it goes without saying that safety precautions and preparations are absolutely paramount when taking on any project that requires working at height. But where should you start and what do you actually need in order to be both protected and legally compliant?

Start with the right equipment

Arming yourself or your workforce with the right equipment is a good place to start. This includes ladders, work platforms and harness restraints for working at height, as well as steps and stools for lower level working. All equipment should be regularly checked and well-maintained too.

Choose the right ladder

Choose a ladder designed for the trade and made to withstand frequent use. Ideally you want something versatile that can be used in various positions or as work platform too. Look for strong auto-locking hinges and a slip-resistant base to ensure the ladder will be stable at all times. It is practical features such as these that help to ensure safety and give complete peace of mind when it comes to working at height.

Personal protection

Safety whilst working from scaffolding is another key consideration. For personal protection on site a safety restraint lanyard is a must. These will normally feature spring-loaded hooks at either end, one for clamping to scaffolding and the other for attaching to a harness. This means in the event of a fall the strap will safely extend to prevent massive shock loading and major injury.

A durable, high quality harness is another essential for anyone working at height. Make sure you choose one that’s meets EN361 Safety Specifications.

Safety on the ground

The safety of those on the ground also needs be prioritised, falling tools can pose a huge safety threat when there are works going on above. Tool lanyards which attach to belt loops and tool belts are ideal to prevent this.

Lastly, it sounds obvious but it’s always best to do as much of the job as possible on the ground, minimising the amount of time and risk posed by working at height. Always assess the situation and the risks before beginning a job at height and make sure you have clear plans in place for any rescue or emergency situations that could arise. For more advice and legal guidance, take a look at the HSE working at height website

This blog post was written by Draper Tools, which offers a wide range of access and handling equipment for working at height as well as personal protective equipment to keep you safe.