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					Working at Height Policy and Guidance
15 February 2006


              Working at, and gaining access to height
Contents
Introduction
Policy statement
Risk assessment
Access equipment
Definitions
References
Ladder and stepladder inspection checklist


Introduction
New Regulations have been introduced to curb the very high toll of incident and injury
caused during work at height and the use of access equipment such as ladders and tower
scaffolds. The prevention of falls is currently a high priority for the Health and Safety
Executive.

This guidance covers the activities of working at height and using equipment for
gaining access to height. The activities covered span a wide range from putting up
displays and Christmas decorations at one extreme, to changing light bulbs in
sports halls and other building maintenance, retrieving a football from a roof or
using a high ropes walkway at the other. Equipment used may include kick stools,
stepladders, ladders, trestles and tower scaffolds, and more specialised equipment
for particular jobs.

This guidance is not intended for specialised or professional personnel such as roofing or
building contractors. Nor is it intended to be sufficiently broad or detailed to encompass
activities such as climbing or abseiling. However, it does relate to day-to-day activities
in which any member of staff might be involved. It applies to any activity undertaken
by staff within the directorate for Children and Young People, including schools.

NB: Chairs should not be used as a means of access to heights or as a working platform.

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Children and Young People's Services:
Statement of Health and Safety Policy on Working at, and gaining
access to height
Mandatory Precautions (based on generic risk assessment)
      Working at height should be avoided if practicable – however, it is
        acknowledged that many situations require staff to work at height. Managers are
        required to ensure the risks are adequately controlled. In schools, the
        headteacher has responsibility for this as the local safety coordinator, but the
        day to day tasks may be delegated to any suitable person who is sufficiently well
        informed to make decisions and authorised to take action.




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Working at Height Policy and Guidance
15 February 2006

          Staff working at height and using access equipment should be competent. This
           means that they should be appropriately trained, informed and experienced in
           the use of any relevant equipment.
          The health and safety management system must ensure that staff know how to
           use the equipment safely and how to check that it is in a suitable condition for
           use. Arrangements must be in place to ensure the equipment is stored properly,
           is secure and is maintained appropriately. A system for recording periodic
           inspections must also be in operation. The nature &/or frequency of inspections
           may be specified by law or in guidance issued by recognised organisations,
           relevant professional bodies, etc. The Directorate regards guidance from such
           professional bodies as mandatory and managers must follow that guidance
           where no other detailed guidance has been produced in house.
          Where contractors are working on behalf of a premises manager (headteacher,
           for example) must be sure that the working practices are reasonably safe.

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Contractors
Part of the assurance premises managers must have can be gained by the use of the
Form 13 procedure. This elicits the support of the Property Adviser who has specialist
knowledge about construction work. However, for day-to-day supervision, the premises
manager should find the HSE booklet Height Safe very helpful as it provides useful, non-
specialist advice.

In most circumstances premises managers (including headteachers) should not hire
or provide access equipment (ladders, stepladders or any form of scaffolding) on
behalf of any contractor. Contractors MUST provide this themselves. If the
contractor is not properly equipped to do the job they are engaged to do, they
should not be allowed to start work.

Risk Assessment
Refer to existing guidance on the Portal for general advice on risk assessment and for a
suitable record form.
 Consider the ability, training and experience of the user; has the person been trained to
    use the access equipment?
 Is the person working alone (see Portal for more detailed guidance), or without
    reasonably close supervision? Is the person comfortable with working at height?
 The activity - what tools or other articles will be carried, are materials to be moved, will
    the person need to lean out or reach up?
 The access equipment required – how high does the person need to reach? If there is
    a risk of a fall from 2 metres or more, particularly if the location or environment (see
    below) is unfavourable, the school should consider conducting a specific risk
    assessment for each job detailing the precautions to be taken, the equipment to be
    used and the times within which the job must be completed. Controls of this nature
    are known as a “permit to work” and are useful when the probability and/or severity of
    an incident is high.
 The location - near or over water, roads, power lines, vehicular/pedestrian traffic, soft
    or rough ground, sloping, stepped or slippery surfaces;
 The environment - weather, temperature, lighting;
 The duration of the work;


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Working at Height Policy and Guidance
15 February 2006

   Where the equipment used is a means of access to a working platform, the risk
    assessment must also include the nature of the platform itself. Is it sufficiently strong
    and rigid to take the loads imposed (including the person’s weight and any equipment
    or materials carried)? Is the risk of falling from the working platform adequately
    controlled? Enclosure of the working area, fall arrest systems or edge protection must
    be considered.

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Access Equipment

Ladders (including stepladders)

Ladders and stepladders are frequently involved in incidents, many involving serious injury
and, occasionally, death. Often, a job isn’t expected to take very long and, as a result, the
way the work is to be done is not properly thought through.
All too frequently, the job isn’t planned properly, the ladder is not secured at the top or
bottom, or the person climbed the ladder with a load, over-reached or over balanced.

Where access to a roof is regularly (say twice a year minimum) required a ladder fixing
point can be installed, particularly where more a permanent means of access is not
possible or desirable (do not encourage unwanted visitors onto the roof ). Installing a point
like this will require a Form 13 to be completed but is not an expensive job.

Sometimes ‘footing’ a ladder (having someone hold the ladder at the bottom while the
other person climbs) is considered an adequate precaution. However, it is very difficult to
stop a ladder slipping or moving and it may be almost impossible for the ‘footer’ to do
anything useful if the need arises.

In schools, a number of incidents have resulted in injuries ranging from bangs on the head
to major injuries including broken thigh bones and dislocated wrists – and these have
come from people putting up Christmas decorations using tables and chairs as the working
platform.




Before you use a ladder or a stepladder: THINK

   Never use a damaged or defective ladder - report it and dispose of it or destroy it. Do
    not attempt to repair the ladder.
   Is the ladder for access only or is it a working platform?
   Is a ladder the correct piece of equipment for the job or would a working platform such
    as scaffolding be more suitable?
   Ensure that the type of ladder is right for the job. Don’t make do!
   Make sure the equipment is strong enough for the job – check the combined weight of
    any materials and the person using the ladder and be very sure the ladder will take the
    weight.
   Make sure it complies with the British Standard and that the kite mark is still clearly
    visible.



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Working at Height Policy and Guidance
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   Ensure the ladder is the right length for the job, ie, not too short or too long.
   Make sure you can maintain a secure handhold while you are working on the ladder.
   Ensure ladder can be securely fixed at the top and bottom, if possible. If that’s not
    possible consider another means of access first. If the job is urgent and of short
    duration (less than 10 minutes, ensure ladder can be footed by a second person, but
    only if the ladder length is less than 3 metres.
   Stand ladder on firm, level base with both stiles on the ground.
   Ladder should be angled correctly – 4 up, 1 out is the simple reminder.

Before you even start the job make sure the ladder is carried safely with front end above
head height. 2 people should carry ladders over 3 metres long;

Care and Maintenance
Ladders and stepladders must be stored correctly and regularly examined. This must
include a visual check before EACH use and a more formal check every 6 months or
more. A possible record form is shown below:

Also show is a ladder and stepladder inspection checklist

Training
Training is a legal requirement to ensure employees are competent. Training can be
obtained for school caretakers through the schools health and safety consultancy service.
Training for other staff can be arranged on request. Remember that training is only part of
the recipe for competence - be sure that the trained person is also reliable and responsible
and aware of their limitations and the limitations of the equipment they may be using.

Guidance for safe erection and use of mobile scaffold towers

A mobile scaffold can provide a much more stable working platform at height than a ladder
or a stepladder. However, it is still a high risk activity requiring knowledge, skill and care.
Any person erecting a tower scaffold MUST have been trained AND assessed. Untrained
people MUST NOT erect the equipment. Users must also be briefed on safe practice.



During use ensure:

   the safe working load (SWL) is not exceeded – under no circumstances exceed the
    weight bearing capacity of the equipment ;
   no one climbs up the outside of the tower – the access ladder should run up the inside
    of the scaffold; Ensure trap door is covered, filled in or protected by barriers;
   that it is not used near overhead power lines;
   the tower is only moved by manual force which should be applied gently at the base
    and never by someone on the working platform.
   persons and/or materials ARE REMOVED from the tower before it is moved;
   erected towers are not left unattended. If this is unavoidable, ensure unauthorised
    access is prevented.
   that the height of the tower is never extended by the placing of a ladder or other
    equipment on the top platform;



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Working at Height Policy and Guidance
15 February 2006

   that the ratio between the platform height and the length of the shortest side is no more
    than 3:1 for outdoor use and 3.5:1 for indoor use unless the manufacturer or supplier
    states otherwise. If extra height is required, stabilisers or outriggers can be fitted to
    increase the base dimensions.



Definitions
Working platform: Means any platform used as a place of work or as a means of access
to or egress from a place of work. It includes any scaffold, suspended scaffold, cradle,
mobile platform, trestle, gangway, gantry and stairway that is used in any of those ways.

Competent: In health and safety terms this usually means that a person has the
knowledge they need to do their job safely, has experience in doing the work and
understands their own limitations. In relation to working at height it means the person
knows how to minimise the risk of falling, how to use the equipment available to them and
how to determine whether it is suitable or not for the job. It also means that they know how
to minimise the risk of injury should they fall from a height and also how to prevent other
people from being hurt should something fall from the working platform.

Means of access: This is the equipment used to get to the working platform. It must be
suitable for the task, sufficiently strong and stable. Furniture is not a means of access
and should not be used as such.




References

General guidance from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) on the new Working at
Height Regulations

http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/schoolsfall.pdf

http://www.hse.gov.uk/falls/information.htm

HSE Information sheet that covers the use of tower scaffolds

HSE Information sheet that covers general access scaffolds and ladders:

HSE free leaflets relating to falls at works, including window cleaning and other more
specialised activities. The leaflet "Top tips for ladder and stepladder safety" may be useful
for any staff who work using such equipment. It is available to download from the HSE
website
Executive


HSE Height Safe Leaflet




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 Working at Height Policy and Guidance
 15 February 2006
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 LADDER INSPECTION CHECKLIST

 It is recommended that ladders and step ladders are used as little as possible and
 only when alternative and safer means of access are prohibitively expensive or
 impractical.

 To control risks ladders must be routinely inspected and stored properly. A register of
 inspections must be kept and each ladder or step ladder should be individually identifiable
 so that inspection details can be kept for easy and specific reference. Faults mean that the
 equipment must immediately be taken out of use. Few faults can be repaired, and must
 always be referred to a competent supplier. Most faults will mean that the ladder must
 be replaced.
General
Loose steps or rungs (considered loose if they can be moved at all by hand)
Loose nails, screws, bolts, or other metal parts
Cracked, split, bent (metal ladders) or broken uprights (styles), braces, steps, or rungs
Slivers on uprights, rungs, or steps
Damaged, worn or missing non-slip bases, including rubber feet and/or hinged stile plugs
Paint may cover cracks or other damage and should not be allowed

Dirty ladders (both rungs and styles) may be unacceptably slippery

Fibre-glass ladders (usually for specialist applications, eg. electrical work) must not be
cracked, crazed or unevenly discoloured; the top covering of resin, etc. should not be
separated from the base coats.

Storage
Ladders should not be stored by hanging from one of the styles or from one of the rungs
as this can loosen the joints between the rungs and the styles.

Stepladders
Wobbly (from side strain)
Loose or bent hinge spreaders
Broken or missing stop on hinge spreaders (sometimes ropes join the two halves of the
stepladder and act as a stop - if required, these should be in good condition)
Broken, split, or worn steps
Loose hinges
Loose, broken or missing bracing
Extension Ladders
Loose, broken, or missing extension locks
Defective locks that do not seat properly when the ladder is extended
Frayed, damaged or missing rope




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 Sample Access Equipment Maintenance Record Sheet
                                                                      Planned
                                                 Condition / Action
Equipment ID     description     Date of check                         review     Signature
                                                     needed
                                                                        date




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