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Hierarchy of Work at Height Flowchart | Safeti

Hierarchy of Work at Height | Step-by-Step Decision Tool

In this post, we take you through the Hierarchy of Work at Height in a handy step-by-step format, using the HSE (UK) guidance documentation as our framework.

Step 1 | AVOID Work at Height

The first step is to ask the question, can you AVOID work at height?

Tips to avoid Work at Height

It might seem obvious, but the intention here is to do as much work from ground level as possible.

Practical examples include using extendable tools to remove the need for ladders/access equipment and locating serviceable equipment to a height that facilitates ground-level access.

Click on your Answer

If your answer is YES, you have eliminated the work at height risk.

If the answer is NO, you will jump straight on to Step 2.

Step 2 | PREVENT a Fall from Height

The second step is to ask the question, can you PREVENT A FALL at height?

Tips to PREVENT A FALL from Work at Height

To prevent fall from occurring, the work at height can still take place, however there must be fixed infrastructure or equipment that significantly reduces or eliminates the risk of a fall from height.

Examples of fixed infrastructure that acts as ‘collective protection‘ could be;

  • Fixed railings on the perimeter of a  mezzanine floor 
  • Guard rails (also fixed) on MEWP’s, and scaffolds

Alternatively, or in addition, we may have ‘personal protection‘ that prevents falls e.g.

  • using a work restraint system to prevent worker reaching a position of potential fall

Click on your Answer

If your answer is YES, you have prevented the fall from height risk.

If the answer is NO or ‘not fully’, you will jump straight on to Step 3.

Step 3 | MINIMISE the Consequences of a Fall

The third step is to ask the question, can you MINIMISE the consequences of a fall from height?

If the risk of a person falling still remains, you must take sufficient measures to minimise the distance and/or consequences of a fall.

Sub-Contractor Duties | Safeti

Tips to MINIMISE CONSEQUENCES of Fall from Height

Collective protection measures are again the first preference, such as safety net and soft landing systems i.e. air bags. Alternatively, or in addition, personal protective systems can be used to minimise the distance and consequence of a fall. These include industrial rope access and fall arrest systems.

Click on your Answer

Click YES if you have minimised the consequences of a fall from work at height.

If the answer is NO, you will jump straight on to Step 4.

Step 4 | Using Ladders and Stepladders

Once all of the other avenues have been exhausted, the remaining options usually require the use of ladders and stepladders.

For tasks or low risk and short duration, ladders and stepladders can be a sensible and practical option. 

Hierarchy of Work at Height | Step-by-Step Decision Tool 1

Tips to Reduce Risk when using Ladders and Stepladders

If your risk assessment dictates that ladder use is unavoidable, or the most practicable option, you can reduce risk of falls by ensuring;

  • the right type/size of ladder is used
  • users are competent (knowledge, experience, training etc.) to carry out the work
  • safe methods of work are created and followed
  • employees are made aware of the risks and measures to limit risk of fall

For more guidance of Safe Use of Ladders, check out our post here.

Click on your Answer

Click YES if you have followed the tips on reducing risk of falls from ladders. 

If the answer is NO, you may need to go back to Step 1.

Hierarchy of Work at Height | Complete!

Great work and well done!

You have managed to reduce risk of injury from falls using our Hierarchy of Work at Height decision-making tool. 

We hope this tool has will help you manage and carry out work at height safely.

If you found it useful, please feel free to share it with your colleagues, team and peers.

Hierarchy of Work at Height Flowchart | Safeti

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