UK’s new Work at Height Regulations – what the new fall protection hierarchy means in practice. by M.E. Holden Msc, Bsc., C.Dip A.F., C.Eng., MICE, MIStructE, MICArb, MIWEM, Principal Specialist Inspector with lead on Technical Work at Height Issues in HSE’s Corporate Topic Group, Member of HSE’s internal sub group drafting the Regulation and chairman of ACWAHT
When they came into force the Work at Height Regulations (WAHR) implemented the Temporary Work at Height Directive1 in the UK. The key elements of the development approach taken by HSE in the drafting of the Regulations were: • To take an opportunity to try to reduce the numbers of deaths and major injuries caused by falls from height in the workplace. (Falls from height are the biggest single cause of fatal injuries, and the second biggest cause of major injuries, caused by accidents at work). To bring together all the current legal requirements related to safe work at height, into a cohesive, single set of goal-setting Regulations which would be flexible enough to apply to all industries and still allow for technical innovation to take place. (Many regulations currently apply , they contain an unnecessary degree of overlap and some are so prescriptive they stop development of new products and ideas). To ensure that the Regulations are practical and tackle high-risk work whilst avoiding unworkable requirements. (They do not ban the use of ladders but correctly require justification for their selection and use) To adopt a risk-based approach, so that measures taken to comply with the Regulations are proportionate to the risks involved, and can build upon existing good practice in the various industries they will apply to and compliance with the current law. (They enable the use of the most appropriate work equipment for the task at hand taking all factors into account).
The WAHR, will apply to virtually2 all sectors of the UK industry, and bring together principles relating to work at height already enshrined in existing legislation such as the Construction (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1996 (CHSWR), the Workplace Regulations 1992 and certain other current legislation, whilst reiterating some parts of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER 98) and Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations (LOLER). As with all new legislation the Health and Safety Executive consulted industry on the proposed regulations. This was done in two ways. Firstly, during the drafting phase, by discussion with an external working group of 27 members representing major industry players involved in work at height, and secondly by public consultation, when the proposed regulations were published for anyone to comment on them.
The regulations actually attracted considerable interest during the consulation period, as is shown the graph of internet ‘hits’ on HSE’s web site shown in Figure 1.This
plots by month the number of users looking at the consultation document and the electronic response forms Website stats for CD192 - Work at Height Regulations Consultative Document 8000
Number of hits
/consult/condocs/cd192.htm /consult/condocs/cd192.pdf /consult/condocs/cd192feedback.doc
0 December Janurary Month February March
Figure 1 - plot of website hits
Despite this apparent interest, however, in total only 751 comments3 on the consultative document were actually received. Consultees raised a range of concerns about the draft regulations. Some saw them as unnecessary and unworkable for their particular industry and wished to be exempt from their application, whilst others saw their goal setting nature as lowering existing standards and wanted more prescription. Reconciling these strongly divergent views has proved challenging and lead to a delay in implementation of the final regulations. The Regulations finally came into force on the 6th April 2005
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