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Working at Height

A person is working ‘at height’ if there is a possibility of their being injured from falling, even if they are working at or below ground level. The Work at Height Regulations refers to 'duty holders': employers, self-employed and employees. This includes all contractors and exhibitors (for example, when accessing areas above floor level to dress stands). Duty holders’ responsibilities are to ensure that:

  • No work is done at height if it is safe and reasonably practicable to do it other than at height
  • The work is properly planned and organised, appropriately supervised and carried out in as safe a way as is reasonably practicable
  • Plans are in place for emergencies and rescue
  • Account is taken of the risk assessment carried out for the activity
  • They do all that is reasonably practicable to prevent anyone falling, including preventing live edge working
  • All work at height takes account of conditions that could endanger health and safety
  • Those involved in work at height are trained and competent
  • The place where work at height is done is safe
  • Equipment for work at height is appropriately selected
  • The risks from fragile surfaces and falling objects are properly controlled
  • Where ladders are used, these are industrial, not domestic quality

Ladders

All reasonable steps should be taken to eliminate or minimise the risks associated with work at height through efficient work planning and selection and use of safe working platforms or other suitable equipment, including ladders and stepladders. Where work at height cannot be avoided, safe means of access and safe systems of working must be used. As far as steps and ladders in particular are concerned, the following should be considered:

  • What they are to be used for
  • Industrial quality and not domestic
  • Duration of the work
  • Training and abilities of users

Ladders can be used as working platforms when it is not reasonably practicable to use alternative means and a risk assessment identifies the activity to be undertaken is low risk. Ladders must be used in accordance with manufacturer's instructions at all times. Additionally, the following guidelines must be followed:

  • Leaning ladders must be placed at the correct angle
  • Ladders should only be used on level ground and must be secure e.g. suitably tied or, as a last resort, footed
  • The top treads or steps must not be used as a platform for work
  • Users should face the ladder at all times whilst climbing or dismounting
  • Stepladders should not be used sideways-on where sideways loads are applied
  • Only one person should climb or work from a ladder or a stepladder
  • Users should not overreach
  • Steps and ladders should be checked for suitability and defects each time they are used

Working Platforms

All Mobile Elevated Work Platforms (MEWPS) must comply with LOLER and have had a Thorough Inspection (TI) in the previous 6 months.

  • All working platforms are to have a guard rail, mid-rail, and toe board.
  • Mobile access towers must be correctly constructed.
  • Mobile access towers must be fit for purpose. Outriggers are to be used correctly with the correct height to width ratio (3.5 x shortest base width indoors and 3 x shortest base width outdoors).
  • Mobile access towers may not be moved whilst in use and wheels must be locked off.
  • Ladders must be footed or tied off and used in accordance with the Construction (Health Safety and Welfare) Regs. The use of domestic ladders and steps is strictly forbidden.

Stop The Drop

'Stop the Drop" is a new campaign launched by the exhibition industry key trade associations and backed by the major organisers and contractors, including Clarion Events.

The aim of Stop the Drop is to ensure that all stakeholders involved in the events industry are aware of the dangers of working at height. Work at height is a common activity when building and dismantling an event. It should always be performed in a safe way using the correct equipment. Working at height in an unsafe way can lead to a dangerous situation for both the worker and others who may be working close by, as a fall can result in serious or fatal injuries.

Every accident can be avoided through careful planning, selection of the right equipment and working in a safe way. Take a sensible, pragmatic approach when considering precautions for work at height.

Please visit www.stop-the-drop.co.uk for more information.