Work at Height Regulations (WAHR)

Posted on: 19 June 2018

What is the purpose of this legislation?

The Work at Height Regulations were introduced in a bid to prevent deaths and injuries caused by falls from height in the workplace and/or as a result of unsafe working practices. 

The regulations:

  • consolidate requirements for work at height into one place, making it easier for duty holders;
  • extend duties to activities not previously covered by specific regulations, such as work activities that take an employee to various places during the day e.g. roadside breakdown recovery and vehicle repairs; and
  • define what constitutes work at height.

Work at height means work in any place, including a place at or below ground level, where, if measures required by these regulations aren’t taken, a person could fall a distance liable to cause personal injury. It includes (but is not limited to):

  • any work at height using work equipment (MEWPs (Mobile Elevating Work Platforms), scaffolds, guardrails, ladders, kick stools, etc.);
  • work on a structure that isn’t designed to act as a floor or platform, e.g. a roof, vehicle, machine, plant, fabrication, telegraph pole or tree; and 
  • working next to an excavation or where there is a similar sudden drop, such as a cellar opening.

Who is responsible for compliance?

Employers, facilities managers, building owners and anyone else that controls work at height, including the self-employed, can be held responsible should an accident occur. 

Duties are imposed on anyone who:

  • is carrying out work at height activities on their own site/premises;
  • has workers (including contractors) under their control; and 
  • is responsible for ensuring the safety of work equipment which may be sent to other sites/premises. 

When workers and work equipment are sent to another person’s premises or site, there is a need for co-operation between the employer/provider and the client so that the requirements of the regulations are complied with. Even if work equipment is to be used at a site which the provider has no control over, the provider should ensure that the work equipment complies with the regulations. The user should then exercise control over its use on site.

For example, a scaffold company delivers equipment to a site and erects it on behalf of the user. The scaffold company must ensure that it’s erected in accordance with the regulations, but the ongoing use and inspection issues are the responsibility of the user.

Duty holders also need to ensure that matters under their control don’t expose members of the public to the risk of a fall or being struck by falling objects.

What needs to be done?

Expand each of the following steps for guidance.

See also: