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September 12, 2013

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Safety guide: working at height

According to HSE figures, in 2011 / 2012, 40 fatal injuries to workers and over 3,000 major injuries occurred as a result of a fall from height. There are several factors that needs to be considered to prepare adequately to work at height. Information provided by HSS Training.

The main considerations when preparing to work from height
The Work at Height Regulations set out a simple hierarchy for managing and selecting equipment for work at height:
1. Avoid
Avoid working at height unless you have to. Always look for alternative ways to get the job done. Where you 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.
2. Prevent
If you have to work at height, do everything you can to prevent a fall. Consider all the risks in advance and carefully choose the right equipment for the job and the environment. Remember to:
  • Use the most suitable protection
  • Give priority to collective measures (e.g. guardrails) over
  • personal protection (e.g. safety harness)
  • Take into account working conditions (e.g. weather/location)
  • Think about the safety of everyone in the area where equipment is used
3. Minimise
If you cannot eliminate the risk of a fall completely, use work equipment or other measures to minimise the consequences should one occur. The regulations are aimed at maintaining and improving standards for all work at height. Duty holders must ensure that:
  1. All work at height is properly planned and organised
  2. Those involved in work at height are competent
  3. A full risk assessment is carried out and appropriate equipment is selected and used
  4. The risks from fragile surfaces are properly controlled
  5. Equipment for work at height is properly inspected and maintained
Assembling towers
Towers should be erected following a safe method of work, there are two approved methods recommended by PASMA (Prefabricated Access Suppliers’ and Manufacturers’ Association), which have been developed in co-operation with the Health and Safety Executive. Users should follow either of the two approved methods, these are 3T (Through the Trap) or Advanced Guardrail Method.
3T Method (Through the Trap)
The most common form of build method, this enables the individual erecting the tower to be fully protected from risk of fall by positioning themselves within the trap door of the platform whilst guardrails are added or removed. This method is designed to ensure the operator does not stand on an unguarded platform.
Advanced Guardrail
The Advanced Guardrail Method uses special guardrail units that are positioned ahead of the person erecting the tower within the build to ensure collective protection at all times, this ensures the operator is never exposed to the risk of fall from an unguarded platform.
The full HSS Guide to working at height can be downloaded here. For more information regarding tower assembly methods visit or contact HSS Health & Safety Helpdesk on 08705 28 28 28. More HSS Training resources are available here.

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