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Any work at height can represent a risk, with falls from height consistently being a leading cause in work related injuries and fatalities in the UK. 

What is Work at Height?

Work at height is defined by the UK HSE as ‘Any work where, if precautions were not taken, a person could fall a distance liable to cause personal injury.’

There is a whole set of UK Legislation that you can read more about here, but as a quick summary, to undertake a work at height project, one must ensure:

  • All work at height is properly planned and organised
  • Those involved in work at height are competent
  • The risks from work at height are assessed, and appropriate work equipment is selected and used
  • The risks of working on or near fragile surfaces are properly managed
  • The equipment used for work at height is properly inspected and maintained


Whilst the work at height regulations will cover all work at height including working on a roof where a worker may be able to fall through that roof, here we are focussing on free standing access for maintenance or inspection, IE, a wall, building or piece of infrastructure needs maintenance or inspection at a height, and access must be brought in, as opposed to, for example, how to be careful and safe whilst working on a permanent raised platform.

Falls from Height Statistics

The HSE Fatality Statistics for 18/19 in the UK, again, lists falls from height being the single biggest cause of work related fatalities. Here are some highlight falls from height at the workplace statistics:

  1. 40 people lost their lives after falling at work in 18/19.
  2. 44,400 non-fatal falls from height causing injury in the workplace. That’s 201 per working day.
  3. ⅔ of all falls happen from c. 1 story with those workers usually working off ladders and stepladders.
  4. 51% of all falls happen from ladders, scaffolding or platforms

The full statistics report can be found here.

Work at Height Process

According to the HSE, there are some steps we must take before starting your work at height project: 

  • Avoid work at height where it’s reasonably practicable to do so
  • Where work at height cannot be easily avoided, prevent falls using either an existing place of work that is already safe or the right type of equipment
  • Minimise the distance and consequences of a fall, by using the right type of equipment where the risk cannot be eliminated

So, the first rule of working at height is, don’t work at height, if you can avoid it!

What is the ‘Right Type of Equipment’ and Can I Use a Ladder?

In short, ladder usage is perfectly okay, is a risk assessment has been carried out to show this. The following things that could lead to deciding a ladder is insufficient includes (but is not limited to):

  1. Longer than 30 minutes at a time of usage
  2. Outstretched action required (eg. reaching to access something)
  3. Unstable footing for the base of the ladder

Other alternatives include scaffolding for work at height, cherry pickers or rope access, all of which have their benefits and limitations. 

Tips When Working at Height

If the risk assessment has been completed and work at height is deemed necessary, the following tips are useful to consider:

  1. Take appropriate action to reduce the time spent at height
  2. Ensure equipment is suitable, stable and regular checked and maintained. 
  3. Don’t overload equipment such as ladders
  4. Don’t overreach
  5. Don’t use a ladder for more than 30 minutes

HausBots Robotics Solution

At HausBots, we use technology to protect and maintain the built environment. 

Another solution that you may wish to consider in a work at height project is novel wall climbing robot technologies. 

HausBots have developed a series of attachments for the patent pending system.

The use cases we specialise in are: 

  • Exterior protective paints for residential, such as Stormdry
  • Commercial and warehouse painting
  • Commercial exterior painting 
  • External building works 
  • Inspection of buildings
  • Inspection of industrial assets, silos, power plants
  • Cleaning (solar panels, windows) 
  • Monitoring large structures (bridges,
    concrete dams,)

We service all clients including:

  1. Housing association and councils 
  2. Block managers and property managers
  3. Homeowners
  4. Subcontract to professional painting contractors
  5. Infrastructure owners
  6. Engineering surveyors and consultants
  7. Insurance surveys

Conclusion

To conclude, when assessing your options for a working at height project, consider involving a professional firm who can risk assess the situation properly and offer solutions. 

Please do get in touch with photos of your project to see if HausBots can use robotics in your next working at height project to info@hausbots.com