Steve Ashworth

Working at heights - what you need to know!

Stephen Ashworth - Health and Safety Services Manager

20 April 2017

The importance of safety when working at heights is a regularly discussed topic across the industry, but too often simple measures are missed and falls from height are still the biggest cause of fatalities and major injury on site.

As recent as February this year a building contractor was jailed after a casual labourer fell seven metres through a fragile roof. The victim was not suitably qualified to carry out such work and no safety precautions were in place.

Working at height is an issue I see on a daily basis when visiting sites, across the house building sector. In order to keep you and your workers safe follow this simple guide below.

What you should do

  • Plan your work to reduce the risks involved with working at height – risk assessments and method statements.
  • Work from the ground as much as possible.
  • Ensure all workers can get safely to and from where they work at height.
  • Regularly check and maintain all equipment.
  • Ensure equipment is suitable for the task after careful selection from the risk assessment process.
  • Take extra precautions when working on or near fragile surfaces.
  • Provide protection (guardrails, harnesses etc) from unprotected open edges after assessing the risks.
  • What about showing workers what to do, how to get up there etc – like an induction or something similar?


What you should not do

  • Work in an area where there is inadequate or no fall protection in place.
  • Rest a ladder against fragile surfaces, such as gutters or glazing.
  • Use ladders or stepladders for tasks which are expected to take longer than 20 minutes. If using a stepladder/ladder do not over reach – ensure you keep 3 points of contact at all times.
  • Walk on any working platform or area that you know or believe to be unsafe/fragile.
  • Let anyone who does not have the skills, knowledge and experience to complete the task.

For more information on NHBC Health and Safety Services call 01908 746113.