Working at heights

What is working at height?

Working at Height (sometimes abbreviated to WAH) is the practice of working in any place where, if procedures and precautions are not taken a person could fall a distance that would cause personal injury.

Here are some examples of ‘Working at Height’:

  • Working above ground/floor level
  • If you could fall off the edge, through an opening or fragile surface
  • If you could fall from ground/floor level into an opening within the floor or a hole in the ground

It is important to remember that working at height does NOT include a trip or slip on level ground as a fall from height has to include a fall from level down to a lower level. Working from height also doesn’t include walking up and/or down a permanent staircase within buildings.

A huge positive of the ever increasing advances in health & safety and protection means that fatalities in the work place, especially those caused from working at height, are becoming fewer and fewer.

When working at height the reduction in fatalities is due to increased awareness of the dangers of working at height. Also an increased usage of preventative measures, both ‘in-built’ and ‘add-on’, has helped in decreasing the amount of fatal and non-fatal accidents. Even though the current regulations and precautions have helped reduced fatalities, falling from height is still the leading killer in the construction industry and thus extra attention and care needs to be taken.

Within Hire Station we have a dedicated range of height safety equipment that can be used to protect yourself and your workforce in virtually every circumstance, whether it is working on a ladder or using access towers. More often than not it is the most simple of devices, such as a stabilising ladder foot, that will help shield you from any form of serious harm. With our broad range of protective and preventative equipment you no longer need to take the minutest of risks, exposing yourself or your workforce to potentially fatal injuries.

In 2005 the government brought out the ‘Working at Height Regulations 2005’. These regulations apply to any form of work at height where there is a risk of fall and/or personal injury. The regulations set in place put duties on the employer and those who control any working at height activity, such as facility mangers and building owners who contract other parties to work at height.

The regulations stipulate that you MUST ENSURE:

  • All work at height is properly and correctly planned and organised
  • That those undertaking the work at height are fully competent
  • That proper risk assessments are carried out to ensure the correct equipment is selected and used
  • The risks of working in, on and around surfaces such as fragile roofs are correctly managed
  • The equipment that is selected for use whilst working at height is inspected and maintained on the correct, regular basis

All of this helps create a safe and secure working environment as well as helping protect not only the employees welfare but also the employers from prosecution for non-compliance.

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What is PAS250?

PAS250 is a Publicly Available Specification (PAS) for low-level working platforms that have a maximum working height of 2.50m (250). PAS250 is linked with the use of Low-level Working Platforms, often abbreviated within the construction industry to ‘LLWP’. PAS is a supported standard pushed forward by the requirements of client companies and was developed strictly to the parameters laid out by the British Standards Institution (BSI).

Key industry stakeholders were assembled to collectively create a BSI endorsed and approved PAS. Every two years the entire specification is reviewed and analysed.

The core requirements of the PAS are as followed:

  • A single working platform complete with side protection
  • Platform only used by one person
  • Maximum working height that does not exceed 2.50m

What’s the difference?

When working at height there are 3 separate height indicators usually given with towers which are:

  • Platform Height
  • Guardrail Height
  • Working Height

It is important to bear in mind that these indicators are ALL different and are NOT different terminology used within the industry for the same measurement

So what is the difference? Please see the detailed infographic to your right for a visual explanation and below for detailed written definition..

Platform Height

This is the height at which the platform is set. Here is where your feet will be when working.

With all Hire Station towers your order is supplied with a specific number of components that will allow you to erect your tower to the height stated.

We highly recommend against ANY reconstruction of the tower to set different heights.

Guardrail Height

This is the height at which the guardrail is set to protect you against falling out of the tower. This is ALWAYS set 1m (3 feet) above the stated platform height.

Working Height

This is the height at which you are able to conduct work at. With all Hire Station towers this is set at 1m (3 feet) above your guardrail height.

This gives you 2m (6 feet) from the platform to your working height with your guardrail situated in between.

Regulations Regarding Guardrails & Toe boards

The 2005 regulations dictate that for construction work guardrails (sometime called handrails) have to be set at 950mm above the working platform and that the gap between the top rail and any intermediate rail beneath it must not exceed 470mm. The regulations also state that the height of toe boards must be set at a suitable and sufficient height (around 100mm is deemed acceptable).

Height Indicator

Here at Hire Station we want all of our customers to know as much information about the equipment they wish to hire and so it is standard practice that we put all 3 height indicators on all of our towers, allowing you to be as informed as possible.

What is the definition of a ‘Working Platform’?

With the introduction of the ‘Work at Height Regulations 2005’ the definition of a working platform changed. Prior to the regulations introduction a working platform was traditionally seen as fully boarded platforms with both handrails and toe boards (also known as kick boards).

Since the 2005 regulation introduction a working platform can now be almost any surface from which work can be safely carried out from, including but not limited to:

  • A roof
  • A floor
  • Platforms or scaffoldings
  • MEWP’s (Mobile Elevating Work Platforms)
  • The treads of a stepladder
Working at height statistic
Fatal injuries at work
Main cause of death
Every year cost
Working at height statistic
Fatal injuries at work
Main cause of death
Every year cost

Competence – How to decide if someone is ‘competent’ to work at height?

When having employees conduct work at height you should always make sure they are competent to do so by ensuring they have the sufficient skills knowledge and adequate experience to perform tasks. If they are currently being trained it is your obligation to ensure they are being taught so under the correct and competent supervision.

Here we have 2 separate scenarios in which different working conditions, shape how the level of competence is achieved.

In the case of what would be termed ‘Low Risk Work’, such as short durational tasks involving ladders the competence requirements maybe no more complicated than making sure that the employees have been properly instructed on how to use the equipment.

A more technical example would be if an employee needs to create a plan for assembling various sections of scaffolding. Here existing training or certification issues by trade association or major bodies’ maybe required as part of a legal standard to undertake the work load.

Useful Information

Training Centres of Excellence

1. Training Centre of Excellence Birmingham

2. Training Centre of Excellence Carlisle

3. Training Centre of Excellence Glasgow

4. Training Centre of Excellence Greenford

5. Training Centre of Excellence Leeds

6. Training Centre of Excellence Loughborough

7. Training Centre of Excellence Manchester

8. Training Centre of Excellence MEP Canning Town

9. Training Centre of Excellence Middlesbrough

10. Training Centre of Excellence Nottingham

11. Training Centre of Excellence Southampton

12. Training Centre of Excellence Stevenage

13. Training Centre of Excellence Strood

14. Training Centre of Excellence Swansea

Awards & Accreditation