Work at Height in Schools

Work at Height in Schools

Work at height accounts for a significant amount of serious and even fatal injuries and accidents across the UK every year. The Work at Height Regulations 2005 are in place to prevent death and injury caused by a fall from height.

By implementing simple, practical measures you can reduce the risk to all members of staff who undertake work at height activities in your school.

What is work at height?

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) defines work 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”.

Some of the most common causes of accidents due to incorrect work at height in schools include:

  • Using inappropriate equipment such as chairs and tables.
  • Faulty access equipment.
  • Overreaching or overbalancing when using a ladder or stepladder.
  • Falls from roofs with unprotected edges.
  • Lack of suitable and sufficient training.

Types of work at height equipment

The different types of equipment commonly used in schools include:

  • Ladders and Stepladders – the most common. Suitable for low risk duties and short-term duration (less than thirty minutes).
  • Kick stools – commonly used for putting up displays, notices or shelving.
  • Tower Scaffolds – used for frequent / longer duration tasks. These must be erected by and used by a competent person (i.e. someone with the correct training).

The selection of equipment should be appropriate for the type of task being undertaken taking into account the working conditions, duration of use and the distance/consequences of a fall.

What control measures are required for work at height?

Before undertaking any work at height consider these three steps:

  • Avoid – where it is reasonably practicable to do so, avoid work at height altogether.
  • Prevent – if work at height cannot be avoided, a risk assessment should be carried out to determine the most appropriate safety measures to prevent falls occurring.
  • Reduce - measures should then be taken to reduce the consequences of a fall from height, should one occur.

The detail of the risk assessments should be proportionate to the level of risk associated with the activity. The areas that risk assessments should consider include:

  • Task / Activity – what is required? How long will it take?
  • People – are they suitably trained? Do they have any medical conditions?
  • Equipment – is it suitable for the task, and in good condition?
  • Location – are there any nearby roads, over-head cables etc.?
  • Environment – are the weather conditions suitable?
  • Others – can anyone else be affected by the activities e.g. pedestrians at risk from falling objects.

I need more information – help!

Our online Work at Height for Schools course provides all of the key information you might need, and ensures you are competent by providing you with a certificate on successful completion of the assessment. Take a look at the course here.

As well as this, our free ladder inspection form enables you to assess your ladder prior to use, ensuring it is safe for your tasks.

The HSE also offers a lot of free guidance on work at height including suitable control measures.


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