The Health and Safety Executive states that in 2014/2015, falls from height made up for over half of fatal injuries in the work place. With work at height remaining one of the biggest causes of fatalities and injuries within the work place, many people still question who is responsible for work at height?
It is the responsibility of the duty holder, who may be a building owner, occupier or facilities management company to ensure site contractors and employees are safe when working at height.
The Work at Height Regulations Act 2005, requires employers and those who control work at height such as; facilities managers or building owners to first assess the risks. Employers and those deemed in control of work at height activities are expected to ensure work is planned appropriately, supervised and is carried out by employees who are appropriately trained and have adequate competency levels.
Employers have a duty of care to ensure that their staff and contractors are provided with the relevant PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) for work at height, but also that the equipment has been adequately tested and inspected prior to use
The Hierarchy of Risk Management should be considered and this includes such factors as can the potential hazard be designed out of the building, or can it be made so that workers are not exposed to the hazard, by protecting it – for example, with guardrail? Where access is required and workers may be exposed to the hazard, then a fall restraint system should be considered. Where the fall restraint system is located and the lanyard length should ensure that the worker does not reach the hazard and is therefore not at risk of a fall.
All these considerations should be made by the duty holder, in the form of a risk assessment to ensure the safe working at height throughout the duration of the job.
The responsibilities of the duty holder also include:
- Ensuring that the work is properly planned and organised.
- Making sure risk assessments are carried out on the site
- Ensuring all those involved in working at height are fully trained and competent in delivering the task
- Provide individuals working on the site with appropriate and properly maintained equipment (including PPE) for working at height and regularly inspect the equipment
- Consider if the weather conditions are appropriate – it may be necessary to postpone the work
- Are there any fragile surfaces which could cause a risk or harm?
- Care should be taken to prevent items falling from a building and someone being hit by a falling object, for example, areas below the work should have restricted access.
So whether the duty holder is the building owner, or the facilities management company, the risks need to be carefully managed. Many dutyholders outsource their work at height testing and inspection requirements to ensure that they are fully compliant and their fall protection equipment is being tested and inspected at the required frequency. This ensures that the business remains compliant and has fulfilled its duties, but also that workers are being offered the very highest level of protection.
Since the introduction of the Corporate Manslaughter Act 2007, it is possible for employers and those who control work at height to be held responsible for corporate manslaughter as a consequence of serious management failures that result in a gross breach of duty of care. If convicted, companies can receive unlimited fines and this can also lead to extensive compensation pay-outs to those injured or their families, not to mention the harm this does to a businesses’ reputation.
Heightsafe Systems provides testing and inspection services as well as employee training and risk assessments to many companies throughout the UK. If you would like more information about our testing and inspection services for working at height, or a survey of your current building’s requirements: call 020 3820 5095 or contact us here.