The government recently announced changes to the guidance it provides relating to working at height. This has been designed to make it easier for both workers and businesses to see what their responsibilities and requirements are. The aim is to provide further protection for those who need to work at height and hopefully limit the number of incidents that occur.
Why are these changes necessary?
There are around 10 million people every year who do some type of work at height, whether on a regular or occasional basis, and this involves over a million companies. Falls account for a large percentage of the fatalities and serious injuries that occur. According to data from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), 4,000 workers suffer serious injuries and there are over 40 deaths due to falls and other incidents while working at height.
The government has decided to look at all types of regulations that a variety of sectors have to abide by to help make the advice they give out much clearer and simpler to understand. There are a number of regulations that are either not necessary, cause too much confusion or waste time and money for businesses. As part of this overhaul, they have targeted the guidance they give relating to working at height.
What do the changes involve?
The announcement from the HSE means that the guidance for this type of work is now much easier to comprehend, allowing employees, contractors and businesses to see exactly what they should or shouldn’t be doing when working at heights. It takes away the confusion, which should help to provide a safer working environment for everyone involved. The aim of the new guidance is to remove some of the red tape that can hold businesses back, while maintaining the most useable and relevant information.
The main changes are:
– There will now be much simpler guidance on what requirements are necessary by law, enabling companies to see exactly what they need to do.
– It will remove some of the main misconceptions regarding health and safety that are prevalent within the industry, such as the issue of ladders which some companies believe are no longer allowed to be used.
– There will be specialist advice for businesses in individual sectors on what equipment and measures they need to put in place, such as the use of edge protection systems.
– There will be clear guidance for workers on what their responsibilities are, including the wearing of personal protective equipment (PPE) where it is provided and necessary.
The new guidance hasn’t just been compiled in isolation and those involved in health and safety have been instrumental in deciding what’s included. It was produced in collaboration with the British Retail Consortium, Trade Unions, the Small Business Trade Association Forum and the Access Industry Forum.
It is hoped that by clarifying the guidance relating to health and safety and working at height, it will provide a much safer environment for all concerned.