HSE overhauls UK work at height guidance

By Euan Youdale28 January 2014

The UK’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is overhauling its guidance on working at height.

According to the UK government’s Department of Work and Pensions, which oversees the HSE, it is part of a long-term economic plan to abolish or improve outdated, burdensome or over-complicated regulations which waste companies' time and money.

More than a million British businesses and 10 million workers are estimated to carry out jobs involving some form of work at height every year, said a government spokesman, with falls being one of the biggest causes of death and serious injury at work.

The HSE has set out in clear, simple terms what to do and what not to do – debunking common myths that can confuse and mislead employers; such as the banning of ladders when they can still be used.

It has identified 3000 regulations that it says should be ended or improved through its Red Tape Challenge, which asks businesses and the public themselves to identify the rules that hold them back.

The new guidance is being backed by business and was produced with the support of the British Retail Consortium, Small Business Trade Association Forum, Trade Unions and the Access Industry Forum.

Health and safety minister Mike Penning said, As part of the government’s long-term economic plan, it’s vital that businesses are not bogged down in complicated red tape and instead have useable advice about protecting their workers.

“As a former fireman, I know that the 10 million people who are working at height in this country face risks in their job. But I’m also clear that managing these risks can be done sensibly, by giving simple and clear advice and tackling the myths that can confuse employers.”

Judith Hackitt, chair of the HSE, added, “It’s important to get working at height right. Falls remain one of the biggest causes of serious workplace injury – with more than 40 people killed and 4000 suffering major injuries every year."

Basic advice for those working at height is available through HSE’s Health and Safety Toolbox at http://www.hse.gov.uk/falls/wait/index.htm

For common work at height myths called in to question see http://www.hse.gov.uk/toolbox/height.htm

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