Fall Protection Regulations: All You Need to Know

Thursday, 17 October 2019

Working at height is a bit of a legal minefield, but as an employer it is your legal duty to navigate this minefield and make the work space safe for your staff. Falls from height are still one of the biggest causes of fatalities in the workplace, and this often comes down to employers and employees not fully understanding, or abiding by the rules. This brief guide gives you a quick lowdown on all relevant law, making sure that you're ready for working at height.

Learn About Fall Protection Regulation
Everyone who works at height must comply with fall protection regulation

An Introduction to Fall Protection

Fall protection is required when a worker is working at a height where a fall could cause personal injury. This can include working on a ladder or flat roof, working on a fragile surface and even working near a hole in the ground. Sometimes common sense will tell you that no fall protection is required, and others it will be clear that steps need to be taken.

The main act that we're concerned with is the Work at Height Regulations Act (2005), which should ensure worker safety at height. To abide by the law, the first steps you must take according to the Health and Safety Executive are listed below:

  • Avoid work at height where you reasonably can do so
  • When work at height cannot be avoided, prevent a fall by working somewhere safe or by wearing fall safety equipment
  • Minimise the distance and consequences of a fall by using the right type of equipment when risk cannot be eliminated
  • Do as much work as possible from the ground
  • Ensure workers can get to and from height safely
  • Ensure equipment is suitable, stable, strong, checked and regulated
  • Don't overload or overreach when working at height
  • Take precautions when working near fragile surfaces
  • Protect yourself from falling objects
  • Consider emergency evacuation

What Else Do I Need to Know?

There are plenty of other things that you need to take in mind too. For example, everyone who uses fall protection must be fully trained in working from height before starting their task. Before they go up, you must determine that they are a competent to work from height, which includes having sufficient skills, knowledge, experience, training and the physical and mental capacity to do so.

You must consider whether the protection required as personal or collective, e.g. a side rail that protects everyone or a harness that protects an individual. You must take into account weather, unstable roofs, falling objects, stored materials, emergency evacuations and the type of equipment that you use. Work equipment must be fully checked by a competent individual who is experienced in Health and Safety, and employees must be fully aware of their own responsibility, which can include reporting safety hazards and using equipment properly.

For more information, please see the HSE Working at Height Brief.

How Do I Know That My Fall Protection Equipment is Safe?

The only work safety equipment that you should use will be fully certified with an EN number. The EN number is a awarded to the product by one of three European Standards Organisations, and will certify that that product is suitable for whatever the EN number represents. EN numbers are hard to get, and are only awarded after stringent safety tests and methods.

What EN Number is Relevant to Me?

Different types of fall protection equipment have different numbers. Whether you're after a lanyard, safety harness or fall arrest block, there should always be an EN number. If you're going to follow one rule when it comes to choosing fall protection equipment; let it be that you only ever use fall safety equipment that is backed by a European Standard.

Harnesses

  • EN 1497: Specifies the requirements, test methods, marking and information supplied by the manufacturer for rescue harnesses
  • EN 361: States that the harness has passed a free fall test with a 100kg fake human model
  • EN 358: Confirms that a positioning belt and lanyard has held a load for over 3 minutes
  • EN 813: Specifies the requirements, test methods, marking and information supplied by the manufacturer for sit harnesses

Arrest Block

  • EN 360: Confirms the abilities of fall arrest equipment, self-locking devices and self-retractable systems.

Lanyards

  • EN 354: Indicates that the lanyard withstood a free fall test without releasing a load
  • EN 355: Confirms that a lanyard's shock absorber can withstand shock

Connectors / Rope / Rope Grabs

  • EN 362: Shows that connectors have passed a strength test
  • EN 353: Shows the test methods for travelling devices incorporated into systems made up of a line to a structure
  • EN 1891: Confirms that low stretch kernmental ropes can withstand the forces generated by a fall

Anchorage Devices

  • EN 795: Ensures that anchorage devices can be used as part of a fall protection system and that they have withstood the maximum dynamic force generated in a fall

Which Fall Protection Equipment Should I Buy?

Fall protection equipment is generally split up into three different categories: work restraint, work positioning, and fall arrest. You can find out more about fall protection equipment by clicking on the link below.

Where Can I Buy Fall Protection Equipment?

We have a wide range of fall protection equipment here at Workwear.co.uk. You can rest assured that all of our fall protection equipment is fully certified and suitable for use at height. You can view our range of fall protection, by clicking on our Fall Protection category.

If you have any questions on fall protection or anything to add, then we would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below!