In this article we explore working at height regulations.

If you’re working at height in your employment, then you’re at risk of injury or even death. Falls from height are one of the biggest causes of workplace fatalities and major injuries. Your employer will have personal protection equipment in place for you to work safely, and the type of equipment depends on where you work.

Table of contents:

    There are also safety rules in place to protect you. Your employer must adhere to the Work at Height Regulations Act from 2005.  However, they can take further action as well.

    • The Purpose of The Act
    • What Does Working at Height Mean
    • Who Does It Cover
    • Who Does It Apply To
    • What Must an Employer Do
    • What Must an Employee Do
    • Who Is a Competent Person
    • Regulations In Detail
    • Conclusion

    The Purpose of The Working At Height Regulations Act

    In certain jobs, people regularly work at height. This can include people washing windows on a high-rise apartment, using lifelines and harnesses to prevent falls. Or workers on a construction site working on cranes or a fragile roof.   Then there are people working at ports, loading and unloading containers from a vessel onto the dock who face risks every day.

    The Work at Height Regulation legislation is designed to protect people who work at height, and to provide a safe working environment, no matter what the job.

    What Does Working At Height Regulations Mean

    Work at height means 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, you are working at height if you:

    • are working on a ladder or a flat roof
    • could fall through a fragile surface
    • could fall into an opening in a floor or a hole in the ground.

    Who Does The Working At Height Regulations Act Cover?

    The regulations cover all employees, including agency staff. You can also be covered if you are on-call and travelling to work at height.  Working from home is not included in the regulations, but your employer still needs a safety policy for this. There are different rules for working at height depending on where you work and what type of equipment is involved. For example, working at height with a crane or working at height with scaffolding.

    Who Does The Working At Height Regulations Apply To?

    If you are an employer or you control work at height, such as a site manager, then the regulations apply to you. Furthermore, it applies to all work activities which involve working at height, no matter how high or low the equipment is used. If you’re a worker, then you must follow the safety guidelines given by your employer.

    What Must An Employer Do?

    If you’re an employer or in control of the work at height activity on site, then you must follow certain rules.

    • You must properly plan any work at height activity
    • And you must properly supervise any work at height
    • You must use the right type of equipment
    • Any work must be carried out by competent people.

    As well as these rules, there are certain steps in the process that you have to carry out. Firstly, you must assess the risks.

    So, if it’s a low-risk job, then this will require less planning. Whereas a high-risk job that needs specific equipment, such as a fall arrest system requires more planning and a rescue and evacuation plan.

    Legal Duties of An Employee

    If you’re an employee, you have legal duties too when working at height. For example, you need to take reasonable care of yourself and others who may be affected by your actions. Hence you need to be careful at all times when working at height and not put yourself in danger which may affect others too.  Also, it’s possible that you notice things while working that are not obvious during the planning. Therefore, you might have a good idea on how to control the risks in a better way and you should let your employer know.

    Furthermore, it’s your legal duty to co-operate with your employer so that the health and safety requirements are fulfilled. So here are the things you must do if you’re working under someone else’s control;

    • report any safety hazard to your employer
    • use all equipment and safety devices properly in accordance with your training, unless you think it’s unsafe, then report this.
    • if you know of any health and safety issues, you must let your employers know in good time, don’t delay or keep it to yourself.

    Who Is a Competent Person?

    According to the regulations, a person working at height must be competent to do so. But what does this mean?

    A competent person requires the skills, knowledge and experience to perform a task working at height.  Therefore, each worker will need training to carry out the task.   For low0-risk jobs, such as how to tie a ladder for example, a worker may only require instructions and training on the job. Whereas using fall arrest equipment requires a fully trained person to use the equipment.  So, training might also include classroom work, specific teaching and certification to demonstrate competence.

    Ultimately, it’s up to an employer to assess the risk of the job and the training involved in carrying it out.

    Working At Height Regulations In Detail

    Under the Working at Height regulations, your employer must:

    • employ a competent person for any work at height
    • inform and train workers about how to do their job safely
    • plan any high-risk work properly
    • use appropriate Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) and equipment to do the work safely
    • carry out rescue and evacuation plans, if necessary.

    Furthermore, when planning a job which involves working at height, an employer must follow these legal requirements.

    • Take account of the weather conditions, which could compromise safety.
    • Check that the area is safe where work is taking place
    • Make sure this area is checked every time before use
    • Stop materials or objects from falling, or if not practical, take suitable and sufficient measures to make sure no one can be injured.
    • Store materials and objects safely so they won’t cause injury if they are moved or collapse
    • Plan for emergencies and rescue.


    Working at height includes many risks and hazards that could be fatal to workers’ safety. Therefore, it’s incredibly important that employers and workers follow the working at height regulations and work together to minimise the danger and prevent any falls.  If a fall does happen while working at height, then an employer must have the specific equipment and rescue plan in place in order to minimise the impact of the fall and rescue the worker safely.  You can buy or hire fall protection equipment from Fall-Pac.com

    Need advice about whether Fall-Pac could protect or train your workers?

    Want to know how else we can protect your business from the risks of working at height? Talk with the team – 0800 652 8099 | sales@fall-pac.com

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