Working at height is often a very necessary task, but it inevitably comes with dangers. Whether it is a crane operator, a window cleaner on a tall building, a roofer, or a tree surgeon in a cherry picker, there will be numerous occasions where working at height is necessary.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has much to say about this issue and for good reason: It is the most common cause of death and serious injury in UK workplaces. The HSE defines working at height as “work in any place where, if there were no precautions in place, a person could fall a distance liable to cause personal injury (for example a fall through a fragile roof).”
As an employer, it is important to know your legal responsibilities from the outset. These are primarily contained in the Work at Height Regulations 2005, which are more precise than the nonetheless important general provisions of the Health and Safety At Work Act 1974.
While work should not be done at height unless necessary, the fact that it so often does need to be means your firm can benefit from working at height insurance. This will cover you for work undertaken in situations where people are using slings, scaffolds, platform access and various other potentially hazardous settings.
This will give you indemnity against accidents, although it is very important to be aware that this does not absolve you of the serious legal responsibilities involved. The 2005 regulations set out the responsibilities employers have to carry out full risk assessments, provide the right equipment and ensure tasks are carried out by trained and competent people.
Failures can lead to tragic consequences for accident victims and also lead to prosecutions for firms, with both hefty penalties and significant reputational damage.
It is, therefore, crucial both to be properly insured and still follow the law very closely when you have staff working in these potentially dangerous situations.