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Blog / Video: How NOT to carry out work at height

8 August 2017

By Jason Godfrey, Safesite General Manager

This terrifying video shows how far we have come in keeping workers safe at height in the last few decades.

The video shows workers on a building site working at dizzying heights with barely any safety equipment, especially not of the calibre you would find today, putting their lives - and the lives of others - at serious risk.

Though the video is ridiculous, it works well to highlight just how unsafe building sites could be in the past. Health and safety, for all people criticise it, has done much to save lives and improve safety on building sites and off.

Work at Height Regulations 2005

The Health and Safety Executive paved the way for safer working at height with the introduction of the Working at Height Regulations. To comply with the Work at Height Regulations 2005, roofing contractors must:

> Ensure all work at height is properly planned and organised;

> That those involved in work at height are competent;

> That the risks from work at height are assessed, and appropriate work equipment is selected and used;

> The risks of working on or near fragile surfaces are properly managed;

> And that all equipment used for work at height is properly inspected and maintained.

Preparing for work at height with a proper safety briefing. Credit: Safesite

Under the HSE’s definition, work at height means work in any place where, if precautions were not taken, a person could fall a distance liable to cause personal injury. You are working at height if you:

> Work above ground/floor level;

> Could fall from an edge, through an opening or fragile surface or;

> Could fall from ground level into an opening in a floor or a hole in the ground.


Working at Height Hierarchy of Controls

The HSE states that for every task that needs to be completed at height, roofing contractors need to assess the risk and put appropriate control measures in place.

It is for this reason that the HSE recommend workers, managers and contractors follow a hierarchy of control. This takes them through a number of steps, with the aim being to avoid working at height accidents. Roofing contractors should only move up the hierarchy when they decide that the control is not practicable.

Safesite offers its own Work at Height hierarchy infographic which is clear and easy to follow.


A long way

The video above is a great reminder of just how dangerous work at height was even a few years ago, and how far we have come in terms of safety. However, work at height is still inherently dangerous and the onus on all of us to ensure injuries - and fatalities - are reduced.

Around fifty people per year are killed when working at height. Don’t follow the example of the past and avoid becoming one of them.,