The HSE states:
Falls from height remain the most common cause of workplace fatality. In 2008/09 there were 35 fatalities, 4654 major injuries and a further 7065 injuries that caused the injured person to be off work for over 3 days or more, due to a fall from height.
Health and Safety at work act 1974
The Health and Safety at work act 1974 imposes general duties on every person involved in the design, construction and post construction use of any structure, as well as all workplaces.
The Health and Safety at work act 1974 is an enabling act meaning it is the law and enables other regulations to be made and enforced under it. There is a considerable amount of legislation here which is in a state of constant update and change.
The Health and Safety at work act 1974 states that it is the responsibility of the employer (or self employed person) to ensure, where practicable, the health, safety & welfare of all persons involved in the construction and use of a work place.
The most relevant of the regulations under the Health and Safety at work act 1974 for the construction industry are:-
1. The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.
2. The Workplace (Health, Safety & Welfare) Regulations 1992
3. The Construction (Health, Safety & Welfare) Regulations 1992
4. Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007
5. The Personal Protective equipment (PPE) Regulations 2002
6. The Work at Height Regulations 2005
The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999
These regulations came into force on the 29th December 1999 and set out broad general duties which apply to almost all work activities in Great Britain and offshore. They are aimed mainly at improving health and safety management, and lay down a more explicit requirement as outlined under the HSW Act 1974. Regulation 3 requires employers to assess the risks to health and safety so as to ensure that the necessary preventative and protective measures can be identified and regulation 4 requires that the employer ensures that the principles of prevention are applied.
European directive 89/656/CEE
According to the European directive 89/656/CEE, the employer or company responsible must put fall protection measures in place for persons working at height. The employer should try to minimise the risk through design or engineering controls and provide measures to prevent falls. If this is not feasible then other protective measures should be considered, such as personal fall protection equipment and systems.
EU directive 89/686/EEC
It covers the specific conditions required to place into the European market and the basic safety requirements of all PPE. To show compliance products are CE Marked by a notified body.
Section 8 of the Regulations requires that PPE may not be placed on the market unless:
• It satisfies basic health and safety requirements
• An appropriate conformity assessment procedure has been carried out
• The CE mark has been affixed to it
• When properly maintained and used for its intended purpose it does not compromise the safety of the user.
Working at Height Regulations (WaHR) 2005
Introduced in 2005 the Working at Height Regulations (WaHR) replace all the earlier regulations, consolidate previous legislation on working at height and implement European Council Directive 2001/45/EC concerning minimum safety and health requirements for the use of equipment for working at height (the Temporary Work at Height Directive).
One of the major differences from the existing regulations is that it removed the "6 feet rule" which stated the minimum height where workers required fall protection and instead defines that a place is "at height" if a person could be injured falling from it, even if it is at or below ground level.
The regulations place duties on employers, the self-employed, and any person who controls the work of others (e.g. facilities managers or building owners who may contract others to work at height) to ensure:
1. All work at height is properly planned and organised
2. Those involved in work at height are competent
3. All risks from work at height are assessed and appropriate work equipment is selected and used
4. The risks from fragile surfaces are properly controlled
5. Equipment for work at height is properly inspected and maintained.
The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations
As with the original 1994 legislation, the updated Regulations continue to place duties on all those who can contribute to the health and safety of a construction project i.e. clients, designers, contractors and planning supervisors, requiring the production of certain documents, the health and safety plan and the health and safety file.
Specifically the designer's duties include the avoidance of risk to people:
1. Carrying Out Construction Work
2. Cleaning & Maintaining
3. Using A Structure As A Place Of Work
4. Demolition & Dismantling
5. Others Who May Be Affected By The Above
The main changes in the 2007 Regulations were made to simplify the existing system by unifying CDM and the Construction (Health, Safety & Welfare) Regulations 1996 into a single package. Additionally there is a more explicit duty on architects to eliminate hazards and reduce risks during the design stage as far as is reasonably practicable, plus there is a new duty to ensure that workplaces comply with Construction (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations.
The Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Regulations 2002
These regulations set out principles for selecting, providing, maintaining and using personal protective equipment (PPE). PPE is defined as "all equipment which is intended to be worn or held by a person at work and which protects him against one or more risks to his health and safety". This includes most types of protective clothing, and equipment such as eye, foot and head protection, safety harnesses, life jackets and high visibility clothing.
The regulations require that "suitable" PPE is both suitable for the user and the risk against which it provides protection. PPE will only be considered suitable if:-
1. It takes account of the risks and working conditions;
2. It takes account of the workers needs and fits properly;
3. It gives adequate protection;
4. It is compatible with all other PPE being used.
The regulations demand that the user and the employer (where different) are responsible for maintaining the PPE in a efficient state, according to the manufacturers regulations.