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News

Work at height - HSE explains what the regulations mean for the construction industry

HSE InfoLine : 13 April, 2005  (Company News)
New regulations came into force on 6 April 2005, applying to all work at height where there is a risk of a fall liable to cause personal injury. To assist the construction industry the Health and Safety Executive has today published a Question and Answer Brief to explain what the new regulations mean in practice and the standards HSE expects the industry to meet. It is available on the HSE website.
New regulations came into force on 6 April 2005, applying to all work at height where there is a risk of a fall liable to cause personal injury. To assist the construction industry the Health and Safety Executive has today published a Question and Answer Brief to explain what the new regulations mean in practice and the standards HSE expects the industry to meet. It is available on the HSE website.

Commenting on the new regulations Kevin Myers, HSE's Chief Inspector of Construction, said: ''Falls from height remain the single biggest cause of workplace deaths and major injuries in the construction industry, responsible for some 40 per cent of fatalities in 2004/05. Preventing falls from height is a key area where the construction industry can take steps to drive down the number of accidents. The regulations give the industry an opportunity to refocus efforts to improve standards for work at height and reduce deaths and injuries.

'A particular area of concern for HSE is the number of major injuries caused by low falls, it's worth pointing out that there are more major injuries resulting from low falls than from falls above two metres. The new regulations remove the old divison between low and high falls; the 'two-metre rule' for high falls has not been retained because dutyholders need to prevent falls from any height. HSE inspectors will ensure that the existing standards are maintained but that greater attention is also paid to the risk from low falls.''

Mr Myers also made the following key points:

'Those following good practice for work at height will already be doing enough to comply with the new regulations;
follow the risk assessments you have carried out for work at height activities and make sure all work at height is planned, organised and carried out by competent people;
follow the hierarchy for managing risks from work at height, take steps to avoid, prevent or reduce risks; and
choose the right work equipment and select collective measures to prevent falls (such as guardrails) before other measures which may only mitigate the distance and consequences of a fall (such as nets or airbags) or which may only provide personal protection from a fall.'
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