Working at Height
by Mike Senior
The following information has been sent to all the towers in the Crewkerne Branch. It is an interpretation of the working at height regulations, and it’s author, Mike Senior, has kindly given permission for it to be reproduced here.
The Regulations are mostly common sense, and what any sensible person would do anyway. The only difference is that planning and execution of work must be done in a structured way and that Risk Assessment and the mitigation of risk must form part of the work plan.
THE WORK AT HEIGHT REGULATIONS 2005 (SI 2005/735) – A BRIEF GUIDE FOR TOWER CAPTAINS AND PCCS.
The following interpretation is concerned only with the impact of the Regulations on normal bell and tower maintenance work – ie not big works.
These Regulations replace all earlier regulations about working at height. They consolidate previous legislation and implement European Council Directive 2001/45/EC concerning the minimum health and safety requirements when working and using equipment for work at height.
Work is defined as “at height” if anyone can fall or injure themselves whilst doing the work, or because of the work.
The Regulations apply to employers, self employed, volunteer workers, and anyone who controls the work of others. Health and Safety Regulations apply to churches and charitable organisations, as well as to the commercial field.
NOTE FROM THE ASSOCIATION:- “One of the problems is that ringers and volunteer workers do not seem to appreciate that they are un-paid employees of the PCC.”
WHAT THE REGULATIONS SAY YOU MUST DO
- Avoid working at height where you can
- If you cannot avoid working at height, use equipment or take measures to prevent falls
- Where you cannot eliminate the risk of a fall, use equipment or take other measures to minimise the distance or consequences of a fall.
REQUIREMENTS AND PLANNING
In effect, the Regulations require that the following applies or is done:-
- All work at height is properly planned and organised
- Carry out a Risk Assessment – think through and note down all potential hazards and the way in which the risk they give will be minimised
- All work at height must take account of conditions that could endanger safety – eg. weather or isolation up a tower
- Those involved in work at height are be trained, or experienced and competent
- The place where work is done is safe- eg. bells down, “Work in progress” notices, no unguarded drops
- Equipment for work at height is appropriately inspected
- Systematically inspect before every occasion of use, any place at which work is to be done at height
- The risks from falling objects are properly controlled
- The work is carried out in as safe a way as is reasonably practicable – eg. tie ladder ends, provide guard rails, use a harness if need be
- Plan for emergencies and rescue – eg. take an assistant or a mobile phone and let somebody know where you are. DO NOT lock yourself in.
The only essential written record of works are of any formal inspection of working platforms more than 2 metres high, which must be made before use and periodically during use. These written records must be made on the day of inspection and kept for three months. However, it is a wise move to write out a Risk Assessment for any work of consequence, and record in a diary when work is done.
Accident Records are of course absolutely essential and all churches should already be keeping Accident Books in the standard form.