Work at height means work in any place where, if precautions were not taken, a person could fall a distance liable to cause personal injury. You are working at height if you:

  • Work above ground/floor level;
  • Could fall from an edge, through and opening or fragile surface or;
  • Could fall from ground level into an opening in a floor or a hole in the ground.

Work at height does not include a slip or a trip on the level, as a fall from height has to involve a fall from one level to a lower level, nor does it include walking up and down a permanent staircase in a building.

Falls from height are the most common cause of fatal injury and the second most common cause of major injuries to employee.

The main causes of falls from height are:

  • failing to recognise the risk.
  • Employers not providing a safe system of work and making sure it’s followed.
  • Employers not providing adequate information, training, instruction or supervision.
  • Employees not using appropriate equipment properly – or sometimes not using it at all.

Your employer must complete a working at height risk assessment for any work that meets the requirements of working at height.  

It is your responsibility to follow the requirements of the risk assessment and were you can’t you must report this to your supervisor or manager.

Your employer should try and avoid working at height wherever possible.  If they can’t avoid it, they should:

  • use work equipment or other measures to prevent falls.
  • use work equipment or other measures to minimise the distance and consequences of a fall.