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Choosing Work at Height Equipment

This is just a quick introduction to the basics; please follow links for further advice.

The ideal situation for work at height is: DON'T! HSE prefers that you make alternative arrangements such as a platform, scaffolding etc so that working at height is avoided, and this is preferable to needing work at height equipment.
If that isn't possible, and personal fall protection equipment is unavoidable, then you'll need to select a system which will minimise both the likelihood and the consequences of a fall.

If a personal fall protection system that prevents a fall is to be used , then it should be one designed to prevent the user being in an area where the risk of a fall exists, or one that prevents the onset of a fall by stopping a slip etc.Only if it is not practicable to do anything else should a fall arrest sytem be used as a last option.

Use the following methods in this order:

1. Ideal: Work restraint
This may be appropriate fall arrest equipment, work positioning equipment or just a work positioning belt coupled with a lanyard. The restraint system should be chosen and arranged so that a user can't be inside a zone where there is risk of a fall.

2. Next best: Work positioning
A work positioning system should be used allows the user to be in a partly or entirely supported position. The work positioning system should include a safety back-up system, in addition to the primary support, so that should there be an operator error or failure of the primary support, a fall will be prevented or arrested

3. Last resort: Fall arrest
Fall arrest equipment will not prevent a fall from occurring and these systems are therefore the least preferred methods of working at height Fall arrest systems contain a full body harness conforming to BS EN 361 and a system or device that provides a means of attachment to an anchor, and that has energy absorbing capacity.

Another point to remember is that ladders are considered to be easily the most dangerous solution to any work at height situation. Try not to use ladders at all; 'HSE's key message is that ladders should only be used for low-risk, short-duration work' - see the HSE page at:

Rescue equipment: The law requires that planning for work at height must include consideration of rescue and emergency procedures.

Competence Schedule 5 of The Work at Height Regulations requires that all users of Fall Protection Equipment must be competent to do so; quoting:
"The user and a sufficient number of available persons have received adequate training specific to the operations envisaged, including rescue procedures"