Working at Height: A Brief Guide

Working at height can be incredibly dangerous for both the person working and anyone below, no matter what access equipment is being used.

Working at height is classified as work being carried out in any place where a person could fall from a considerable height and cause personal injury if precautions are not in place. This could be:

  • a tower
  • ladder
  • scaffolding
  • roof
  • platform
  • on a fragile surface, such as a weak flat roof, or glass
  • at height when there is an opening or hole below

There are other risks to consider too, such as tools and other items being dropped from height and injuring anybody at ground level. Working from height remains one of the greatest risks to safety and health on sites.

The correct equipment must be used for the job, fall protection equipment worn, correct safety procedures in place, and you must ensure the equipment is safe to use and has been checked over in between every use, especially if there is bad weather or it is in place for a prolonged time.


Work at Height Regulations 2005

The Work at Height Regulations 2005 aim to prevent death and injury caused by a fall from height. If you're an employer or you control working at height activities then the Work at Height Regulations 2005 apply to you. They must be followed at all times, by law.

Work must be planned, supervised, and then carried out by an experienced, competent person who has been trained in working from height.



What You Have To Do When Working From Height

If working at height is involved in your workplace or job role, there are some important steps to take. These checks and steps must be carried out by a competent person who has the correct knowledge and qualifications to ensure thorough, complete checks and implementations are in place.

A site manager or employer must also check that the steps have been completed before commencing work.


Risk Assessments

The first step to preventing a fall when you’re working at height is to complete a risk assessment. This will take into consideration:

  • the full tasks and what needs to be done
  • the height required to work at
  • the duration and frequency of the work

A risk assessment should identify the risks, understand how they could affect the worker or injured party, and identify the steps to minimise or eliminate the risk.

The outcome could be that working from height should be avoided where possible. Where it can't be avoided, the correct equipment, safety equipment, and training will be needed.

If you’re frequently going to be working at height, and know in advance that your working surfaces could be affected by rain, consider using the lowest level access equipment possible. Low-level access provides a safer alternative to ladders and is a more efficient option than access towers to increase productivity on-site. They can also be used in narrow spaces where access towers are impractical.


Minimise Your Risk

If risk cannot be eliminated, minimise the distance and risk of a fall by using the correct equipment and safety additions.

For example, if you are working with ladders, the feet could easily slip. Your risk isn’t minimised by low height either – 60% of major injuries are from falls below head height! Make sure you have anti-slip equipment to keep your ladders firmly on the ground if you’re working with potentially slippery floors.

Attach guard rails and toe boards to scaffolding so there are no open edges, and use fall prevention or safety decking systems.

Personal protective equipment is vital, too. A safety harness, fitted correctly and connected to a suitable anchor point is essential. Hard hats and protective knee or elbow pads may also be needed.



Use the Equipment Correctly

Once you have assessed all risks and looked at the correct equipment to either prevent or minimise your risk of falling when working at height, you need to make sure you can use the equipment correctly.

  • Ensure that the person using the equipment is trained and competent to do so
  • When hiring equipment ensure you get proper hand-over instructions and instructions
  • Consider ground and weather conditions and always follow the manufacturer’s operating instructions
  • If in doubt, ask for advice and/or training. Speedy supplies a wide range of training for access equipment which can be seen by clicking here

All Speedy Hire products come with instructions and are checked before every hire, so it is just a matter of double-checking before you set everything up. Your local depot or service centre will be able to help you if there are any issues, as they're always on hand for advice.


The Do's and Don'ts of Working From Height


  • as much work as you can from the ground, minimising the need for working at height
  • eliminate the risks of items falling from height
  • ensure the correct access equipment is in place to reach height platforms
  • check equipment regularly, daily if possible
  • maintain equipment, and stop using any which isn't safe
  • have safety plans in place
  • check workers are trained, wearing their necessary PPE, know what they're doing, and are confident



  • overload ladders or use sections which aren't designed to support people
  • use ladders where it can be avoided. Platforms are safer
  • overreach. Use the appropriate height of a platform
  • use fragile surfaces as support for tasks, such as pipes or guttering
  • cut corners when it comes to health and safety


Why Hire Access & Height Equipment?

When you hire access and working at height equipment from Speedy, it will have been checked for safety and usability before being hired. You will also get all of the parts you need for your job, so it makes sense to hire.

It also means you can hire the correct platforms, scaffolding and towers for the job. You should never just make do when it comes to using the correct equipment, especially when working from height. Don't risk stretching or leaning to get to the right place.

Speedy in your pocket
Get a Speedy Account