The Work at Height Regulations 2005 (as amended)

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The Work at Height Regulations 
2005 (as amended)
A brief guide 
In 2005/06 falls from height accounted for 46 fatal accidents at work 
and around 3350 major injuries. They remain the single biggest cause of 
workplace deaths and one of the main causes of major injury.
This leaflet is written for employers, the self-employed and anyone who 
works at height. It tells you what you need to do to comply with the Work at 
Height Regulations 2005, as amended by the Work at Height (Amendment) 
Regulations 2007. The Regulations apply to all work at height where there is a 
risk of a fall liable to cause personal injury.
Using this information
1 This leaflet summarises what you need to do to comply with the Work at Height 
Regulations 2005. Some industry/trade associations may have produced more 
detailed guidance about working at height. You can also find more information on 
the HSE website.
2 It has been written so that in most cases it can be used without access to 
the Regulations. However, it may be useful to have the Regulations to hand if you 
require more information.
Why are these rules important?
3 These Regulations have been made to prevent the deaths and injuries caused 
each year by falls at work.
4 They replace all the earlier regulations about working at height. The Work at 
Height Regulations 2005 consolidate previous legislation on working at height and 
implement European Council Directive 2001/45/EC concerning minimum safety 
and health requirements for the use of equipment for work at height (the Temporary 
Work at Height Directive).
What is ‘work at height’? 
Regulation 2
5 A place is ‘at height’ if (unless these Regulations are followed) a person could 
be injured falling from it, even if it is at or below ground level.
6 ‘Work’ includes moving around at a place of work (except by a staircase in a 
permanent workplace) but not travel to or from a place of work. For instance, a 
sales assistant on a stepladder would be working at height, but we would not be 
inclined to apply the Regulations to a mounted police officer on patrol.Health and Safety 
Executive
The Work at Height Regulations 2005 Page 2 of 7
What do the Schedules to the Regulations cover?
7    They cover the detailed requirements for: Schedule
■ existing places of work and means of access for work at height 1
■ collective fall prevention (eg guard rails and toe boards) 2
■ working platforms 3
■ collective fall arrest (eg nets, airbags etc) 4
■ personal fall protection (eg work restraints, work positioning, fall 
arrest and rope access) 
5
■ ladders and stepladders 6
■ inspection reports (for working platforms in construction only) 7
■ revocations 8
Do the rules apply to you? 
Regulations 3 and 14
8 The Work at Height Regulations 2005 apply to all work at height where there 
is a risk of a fall liable to cause personal injury. They place duties on employers, 
the self-employed, and any person who controls the work of others (eg facilities 
managers or building owners who may contract others to work at height) to the 
extent they control the work. 
9 Paid instructors or leaders of caving or climbing activities may use recognised 
alternative means of rope access and work positioning that do not make provision for 
two separately anchored ropes, providing they maintain an equivalent level of safety.
10 If you are an employee or working under someone else’s control, regulation 14 
says you must:
■ report any safety hazard to them;
■ use the equipment supplied (including safety devices) properly, following any 
training and instructions (unless you think that would be unsafe, in which case 
you should seek further instructions before continuing).
Special cases  
Regulations 3, 15 and 16 and Schedule 2
11 In certain cases the Regulations can apply outside Great Britain. (For details see 
regulation 3(1).)5
12 There are some exemptions for shipping, offshore installations, and docks. 
(For details see regulations 3(4) – 3(6) and 16.) People and organisations acting in 
the interests of national security may be exempted by the Secretary of State for 
Defence.The Work at Height Regulations 2005 Page 3 of 7
Health and Safety 
Executive
13 You may ask the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to exempt certain people, 
premises, equipment, or activity from some of the regulations relating to guard rails 
and the like, but you will have to show that there is no risk to anyone’s health or 
safety. (For details see regulation 15 and Schedule 2.)
What you must do as an employer
Overriding principle
Regulation 6(3)
14 You must do all that is reasonably practicable to prevent anyone falling.
The Regulations hierarchy
15 The Regulations set out a simple hierarchy for managing and selecting 
equipment for work at height.
Dutyholders’ responsibilities
16 The Regulations require dutyholders to ensure: 
■ all work at height is properly planned and organised; 
■ all work at height takes account of weather conditions that could endanger 
health and safety;
■ those involved in work at height are trained and competent; 
■ the place where work at height is done is safe;
■ equipment for work at height is appropriately inspected;
■ the risks from fragile surfaces are properly controlled; and
■ the risks from falling objects are properly controlled.
Planning 
Regulations 4 and 6(1, 2)
17 You must:
■ ensure that no work is done at height if it is safe and reasonably practicable to 
do it other than at height;
■ ensure that the work is properly planned, appropriately supervised, and carried 
out in as safe a way as is reasonably practicable;
■ plan for emergencies and rescue;The Work at Height Regulations 2005 Page 4 of 7
Health and Safety 
Executive
■ take account of the risk assessment carried out under regulation 3 of the 
Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations.
Weather 
Regulation 4(3, 4)
18 You must ensure that the work is postponed while weather conditions 
endanger health or safety (but this does not apply to emergency services acting in 
an emergency).
Staff training 
Regulations 5 and 6(5)(b)
19 You must ensure that everyone involved in the work is competent (or, if 
being trained, is supervised by a competent person). This includes involvement in 
organisation, planning, supervision, and the supply and maintenance of equipment.
20 Where other precautions do not entirely eliminate the risk of a fall occurring, you 
must (as far as it is reasonably practicable to do so) train those who will be working 
at height how to avoid falling, and how to avoid or minimise injury to themselves 
should they fall.
The place where work is done 
Regulation 6(4)
21 You must ensure that the place where work is done at height (including the 
means of access) is safe and has features to prevent a fall, unless this would mean 
that it is not reasonably practicable for the worker to carry out the work safely 
(taking into account the demands of the task, equipment and working environment). 
Detailed safety requirements about where work is done at height are set out in 
Schedule 1.
Equipment, temporary structures, and safety features 
Regulations 6(4)(b), 6(5)(a, b), 7, 8 and 12
22 If you rely on the exception in paragraph 21 above, you must provide 
equipment for preventing (as far as is reasonably practicable) a fall occurring. 
23 If the precautions in paragraphs 21 and 22 do not entirely eliminate the risk 
of a fall occurring, you must do all that is reasonably practicable to minimise the 
distance and effect of a fall.
24 When selecting equipment for work at height you must:
■ use the most suitable equipment;
■ give collective protection measures (eg guard rails) priority over personal 
protection measures (eg safety harnesses);
■ take account of:
– the working conditions; and
– risks to the safety of all those at the place where the work equipment is to be 
used.
25 You must ensure that all equipment, temporary structures (eg scaffolding), and 
safety features comply with the detailed requirements of Schedules 2 to 6.The Work at Height Regulations 2005 Page 5 of 7
Health and Safety 
Executive
Inspections
Regulations 12 and 13
26 ‘Inspection’ is defined by regulation 12(10) as ‘such visual or more rigorous 
inspection by a competent person as is appropriate for safety purposes … 
(including) any testing appropriate for those purposes’.
27 You must ensure (as far as it is reasonably practicable to do so) that each 
individual place at which work is to be done at height is checked on every occasion 
before that place is used. This involves checking the surface and every parapet, 
permanent rail etc.
28 You must ensure that any item of a type mentioned in Schedules 2 to 6 is 
inspected:
■ after it is assembled or installed (or after it has been assembled and installed if 
both are required), if its safety depends on how it is assembled or installed;
■ as often as is necessary to ensure safety, and in particular to make sure that any 
deterioration can be detected and remedied in good time.
29 You must ensure that before you use any equipment which has come 
from another business, and before any equipment leaves your business, it is 
accompanied by an indication (clear to everyone involved) that the last inspection 
required by these regulations has been carried out.
Note: This does not apply to lifting equipment governed by regulation 9(4) of the 
Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998, but since that rule is 
similar to this one there is little practical difference.
30 You must ensure that any platform used for (or for access to) construction work 
and from which a person could fall more than 2 m is inspected in place before 
use (and not more than seven days before use). Where it is a mobile platform, 
inspection at the site is sufficient without re-inspection every time it is moved.
Notes: ‘Construction work’ is defined in detail in regulation 2(1) of the Construction 
(Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1996 but broadly means ‘the carrying out 
of any building, civil engineering or engineering construction work’. 
‘Platform’ is widely defined by regulation 2 to include areas like gangways and 
stairways.
31 You must ensure that the person inspecting a platform (as required in 
paragraph 30):
■ prepares a report before going off duty, giving the details listed in Schedule 7;
■ gives the report (or a copy) within 24 hours of completing the inspection to the 
person for whom the inspection was done (eg you or your site manager).
32 You must keep the report of a platform inspection made under the instructions 
given in paragraphs 30 and 31:
■ at the construction site until the work is completed;
■ then at an office of yours for another three months.
33 ‘Keeping’ a report means keeping it (or a copy) safe from loss and unauthorised 
interference, and so that a printed copy can be supplied when required.
34 You must keep all other records of inspection until the next inspection has been 
carried out. The Work at Height Regulations 2005 Page 6 of 7
Health and Safety 
Executive
35 Paragraphs 31 to 33 do not apply to lifting equipment governed by the 
similar rules imposed by regulations 9 and 10 of the Lifting Operations and Lifting 
Equipment Regulations 1998.
Fragile surfaces 
Regulation 9
36 You must ensure that no one working under your control goes onto or near a 
fragile surface unless that is the only reasonably practicable way for the worker to 
carry out the work safely, having regard to the demands of the task, equipment, or 
working environment.
37 If anyone does work on or near a fragile surface you must:
■ ensure (as far as it is reasonably practicable to do so) that suitable platforms, 
coverings, guard rails, and the like are provided (and used) to minimise the risk;
■ do all that is reasonably practicable, if any risk of a fall remains, to minimise the 
distance and effect of a fall.
38 If anyone working under your control may go onto or near a fragile surface, 
you must do all that is reasonably practicable to make them aware of the danger, 
preferably by prominent warning notices fixed at the approaches to the danger 
zone.
Falling objects 
Regulations 10 and 11
39 Where it is necessary to prevent injury, you must do all that is reasonably 
practicable to prevent anything falling. 
40 If it not reasonably practicable, you must ensure that no one is injured by 
anything falling.
41 You must ensure that nothing is:
■ thrown or tipped from height if it is likely to injure anyone;
■ stored in such a way that its movement is likely to injure anyone.
42 If the workplace contains an area in which there is a risk of someone being 
struck by a falling object or person, you must ensure that the area is clearly 
indicated and that (as far as reasonably practicable) unauthorised people are unable 
to reach it. 
Further reading
If in doubt, contact your local HSE office (the address is in the phone book). The 
staff there can refer you to the appropriate inspector or the environmental health 
officer at your local authority.
Legislation
Work at Height Regulations 2005 SI 2005/735 The Stationery Office 2005 
(available online at: www.opsi.gov.uk/si/sl2005/20050735.htm) as amended by the 
Work at Height (Amendment) Regulations 2007 SI 2007/114 The Stationery Office 
2007 (online at: www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si2007/20070114.htm)Health and Safety 
Executive
Published by the Health and Safety Executive      INDG401      04/12 Page 7 of 7
Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 SI 1999/3242 
The Stationery Office 1999 ISBN 0 11 085625 2
Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 SI 1998/2307 
The Stationery Office 1998 ISBN 0 11 079598 9
Construction (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1996 SI 1996/1592 
The Stationery Office 1996 ISBN 0 11 035904 6
Useful website
HSE’s Falls from height website: www.hse.gov.uk/falls
Further information
For information about health and safety, or to report inconsistencies or inaccuracies 
in this guidance, visit www.hse.gov.uk/. You can view HSE guidance online and 
order priced publications from the website. HSE priced publications are also 
available from bookshops. 
The Stationery Office publications are available from The Stationery Office, 
PO Box 29, Norwich NR3 1GN Tel: 0870 600 5522 Fax: 0870 600 5533 
email: customer.services@tso.co.uk Website: www.tsoshop.co.uk/ (They are also 
available from bookshops.) Statutory Instruments can be viewed free of charge at 
www.legislation.gov.uk/.
This leaflet contains notes on good practice which are not compulsory but 
which you may find helpful in considering what you need to do.
This document is available in priced packs from HSE Books, 
ISBN 978 0 7176 6231 9. A web version can be found at: www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/
indg401.pdf.
© Crown copyright If you wish to reuse this information visit www.hse.gov.uk/
copyright.htm for details. First publishedFirst published 04/07.
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