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Working at height

Working at height

Your legal responsibility

You must do all that is reasonably possible to prevent anyone falling from a height. When you carry out your risk assessment, you must look at all work carried out at a height where there is a risk of falling. This includes work done at or below ground level.

Make sure you do the following:

  • Avoid unnecessary people working at heights.
  • Where this can't be avoided, use work equipment or other measures to prevent the risk from falls.
  • Where you can't eliminate the risk of a fall, use work equipment or other measures to minimise the distance and consequences of a potential fall.

What law applies?

  • The Work at Height Regulations 2005
  • The Work at Height Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2005

The regulations cover many aspects about working at a height, including:

  • Personal fall protection (such as work restraints and rope access)
  • Means of access
  • Working platforms
  • Ladders and step ladders

How to keep employees working at height safe

When work at height is involved, you're legally responsible to make sure that:

  • It's properly planned and organised
  • It takes account of weather conditions that could risk health and safety
  • Staff involved are trained and competent
  • The place where it's done is safe
  • The equipment is appropriately inspected
  • Risks from fragile surfaces are properly controlled
  • Risks from falling objects are properly controlled


The regulations require you to make a plan if staff will be working from a height. Therefore, you must:

  • Look at ways that avoid working from a height if it is safe and reasonably possible to do it another way
  • Ensure that the work is properly planned, appropriately supervised and carried out in as safe a way as is reasonably possible
  • Plan for emergencies and rescues
  • Take account of your general risk assessment

More information

See either the HSE's subsite Work at height or, in Northern Ireland, the HSENI's 'Falls from height guide'.

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