Work at Height - The do's and don'ts

Sarah Daniels The RedCat Partnership Ltd

Work at Height Regulations Do’s and Don't s

Firstly what do the Work at Height Regulations cover?

There are many myths around Health and Safety- and the most commonly quoted is that Ladders are banned, or that the Work at Height regulations only apply to work above 2 metres: both are wrong.

The Regulations do have a code of practice/ guidance document that explains their meaning in more straight forward terms; but essentially under the Regulations, you must ensure:

  • all work at height is properly planned and organised- Risk Assessment is key!
  • those involved in work at height are competent- not just trained, but have the right knowledge and attitude to work safely, and are able to protect those who may be affected by the work at height
  • the risks from work at height are assessed, and appropriate work equipment is selected and used; the equipment needs to be fit for purpose and used correctly
  • the risks of working on or near fragile surfaces are properly managed- whether roofs, loft spaces or sky lights
  • the equipment used for work at height is properly inspected and maintained- a simple checking regime is essential

We have compiled some simple Do's and Don't based on the Code of Practice


* as much work as possible from the ground- this is safer - take advantage of new technology & equipment

* ensure workers can get safely to and from where they work at height- this is often forgotten - the whole task needs to be planned

* ensure equipment is suitable, stable and strong enough for the job, maintained and checked regularly- User checks are essential.

* take precautions when working on or near fragile surfaces

* provide protection from falling objects

*consider emergency evacuation and rescue procedures; things can and will go wrong, so plan for this


* overload ladders – consider the equipment or materials workers are carrying before working at height. Check the pictogram or label on the ladder for information, Use team members, tool belts etc

* overreach on ladders or stepladders- a common cause of injury; it takes a few seconds to step down and move the ladder

* rest a ladder against weak upper surfaces, eg glazing or plastic gutters; plan safe work at height- generic assessments will not suffice

* use ladders or stepladders for strenuous or heavy tasks, only use them for light work of short duration (a maximum of 30 minutes at a time) Longer periods of time would suggest that a safe system of work is available

* let anyone who is not competent (who doesn’t have the skills, knowledge and experience to do the job) work at height- or who is suffering from a medical condition which affects their balance - or has a habit of working with their shoe laces untied!

To conclude- Work at Height needs to be planned, in simple terms you need to think of the Environment where the work at height is going to undertaken, the task that is going to be undertaken,and all the equipment that will be required, and who will be doing the work, and who could be affected by the work that is being undertaken.


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