The work at height regulations 14 years on: has it been a success?
As their name suggests, The Work at Height Regulations 2005 are a set of legal requirements which must be followed by all workers and workplaces where work is being carried out at height. They were introduced as a measure to help reduce injuries and deaths caused by falls from height at work.
Falls from ladders and raised work surfaces are one of the most common causes of worker deaths in the country. Despite progress in health and safety practices and regulation in the UK, falls from height are the single most common cause of fatal accidents at work. In 2017/2018, falling from height was responsible for 35% of all work-related deaths. This is significantly higher than the second most common cause of death at work, being hit by a moving vehicle, which accounted for 26% of deaths.
How has technology progressed to make working at height safer?
Alongside more rigorous legislation and health and safety guidelines, the equipment used on worksites has come a long way since 2005. There are now a number of revised and improved designs for equipment like ladders, access towers and scaffolding towers. New equipment is safer than ever, and it’s partly thanks to the Work at Height Regulations 2005.
Equipment manufacturers are aware of the rigorous guidelines in place for all businesses and workers who work at height. Step ladders and scaffolding are no longer the safest or most popular options on the market. There are many different access towers for sale which combine the best of various other access solutions. An access tower provides stability and strength to make working at height safer than ever.
How do access towers make working at height safe?
If you work in the construction industry, chances are you probably already know what an access tower is. If you’re not familiar with access towers, we’ll give you a quick rundown of their features, what they do and why they’re a good choice for anyone working at height.
Access towers combine many features of ladders and scaffolding to provide safe access for individuals working at height. Much like a stepladder, an access tower sits on a four-sided base which provides stability for workers. The structure of the access tower is more like a standard scaffold, with a series of beams which extend straight up towards a rectangular working platform.
The working platform provides a firm floor on which workers can stand with their tools. It is a much safer alternative to a ladder rung, for example. Around the working platform, a series of guard rails protects workers from falls. They can hold on to the rails for extra stability if needed, and even lean against them when using two-handed tools. To gain access to the working platform, some form of ladder is usually used. This can be integrated inside the structure, but is usually fitted on the outside.
Mobile access towers
There are many access towers for sale which are actually classed as mobile access towers. Using wheels at the bottom of each leg, a mobile access tower can easily be moved to different locations around an indoor worksite. They can even be used in an outdoor worksite, provided the ground is firm and even. In this way, a mobile access tower provides the mobility of a stepladder, which is hard to come by when using standard scaffolding.
Although the legs of a mobile access tower have wheels attached, the wheels can be locked to ensure the mobile access tower doesn’t move while in use. For added stability, access towers often also have additional support legs attached around their base. These support legs increase the base area of the access tower, providing additional stability and reducing the risk of the tower tipping over.
Have the Work at Height Regulations 2005 been a success?
It’s been 14 years since the Work at Height Regulations 2005 were introduced, but have they had a noticeable impact on safety in the workplace? The UK had a low worker fatality rate of 0.55 per 100,000 in 2014, compared to 3.14 and 0.88 for France and Germany respectively. But falls from height are still the biggest cause of fatalities at work.
A government report into the success of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 found that, whilst the framework is thorough and effective, the enforcement of the rules is somewhat lacking. Without proper enforcement, even the most rigorous rules and regulations will not have their full effect.
While enforcement of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 in the workplace could certainly be more effective, the regulations have ensured that equipment manufacturers make their products safer. Now that products such as access towers are commonplace and come with more safety features than ever, employers and employees can be confident that their equipment will help them work at height as safely as possible.
If you would like to know more about the range of access towers we have for sale, or would like more information about the range of access solutions available, please get in touch today.
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