SC09 - Work at height
06 Dec 2010



SHE Code 9




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1Initial launchNovember 2007
1.1Amendments to audit checklistMay 2013
1.2Changes to more clearly separate ladder use to PUWER codeMarch 2014
Add Document retention policy Appendix
August 2014
Minor changes to 4.2 and 4.4.3
April 2015
​Additions to Permit in Appendix 2
​March 2018​
Minor change to 4.1.2 and updates to reflect the launch of SHE Assure
​October 2018
​Update to Roof Work permit in Appendix 2
​January 2020​

1. Purpose

Falls from height are the biggest cause of workplace death in the UK and one of the main causes of major injuries. In 2005/06 falls from height accounted for 46 fatal accidents at work and nearly 4000 major injuries. A third of STFC 'fall from height' injuries, between 2001 and 2007, have had to be reported to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

The Work at Height Regulations 2005 protect staff and others against risks to their health and safety while working at height. Previous regulations defined "Work at Height" as being at least two metres high above ground level. The 2005 regulations have removed this criterion and place no minimum height for which work at height considerations apply.

This code outlines the steps to be taken by STFC staff to ensure that the risks to the health and safety of STFC staff or others can be effectively managed whilst working at height on Council business.

Work at Height should be avoided where possible. Where this is not possible a suitable and sufficient risk assessment must be undertaken and a safe system of work developed. Any work at height needs to be properly planned in advance of the work activity, appropriately supervised and carried out in a safe manner. Careful consideration should be given to the selection and use of work equipment.

2. Scope

This policy is applicable to all staff, contractors, users and tenants working at STFC sites. Contractors may use their own format for risk assessments and method statements but they must meet the standards laid out in this code.

Working at height in an office, or similar low risk environment, can be addressed through the general Risk Assessment process, SHE Code 6 Risk Management, where an appended template office risk assessment can be adapted for use.

This code does not address the issue of erection of scaffolds or mobile work platforms or the statutory inspection of such equipment or the safe use of ladders, see:

This code encompasses specialist 'climbing', for example climbing structures on STFC sites such as RAL or Chilbolton. Specialist climbing procedures exist that have been developed to address specific local hazards.

3. Definitions

3.1 Work at Height

Work at Height, is work in any place, including a place at, above or below ground level where a person could be injured if they fell from that place. This can also include means of access and egress to a place of work. The legislation no longer specifies a minimum height, 'the 2m rule'. For example, work on the roof of a building, experimental hutch, Portacabin or other raised platform that does not have edge protection. The majority of external building roofs are under the control of site Estate teams and have edge protection.

3.2 Roof

Roof – is the uppermost covering or part of a structure. The structure may be inside another structure (e.g. an experimental hutch).

3.3 Work Equipment

Work Equipment – means any machinery, appliance, apparatus, tool or installation for use at work (PUWER 1998).

4. Responsibilities

4.1 Managers and Supervisors of work at height shall:
  • 4.1.1 ensure that every effort is made to avoid working at height and that where it cannot be avoided a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks to health and safety is completed before the work is carried out.

    The risk assessment should be based upon SHE Code 6 Risk Management and specific guidance in assessing the hazards associated with work at height can be found at Appendix 1.

  • 4.1.2 provide suitable work equipment or other measures, such as guard-rails ​at edges or cover plates over gaps or holes, to prevent falls where work at height cannot be avoided and ensure that all equipment used while work at height is being carried out is properly inspected and maintained.​

  • Areas where regular access is required for maintenance etc. should be protected as far as is reasonably practicable (see HSE document INDG 284 - Working on Roofs).

  • 4.1.3 except for the simplest jobs where the necessary precautions are straightforward and can easily be repeated, ensure that prior to working at height a method statement including emergency procedures, and rescue procedures where fall arrest harnesses are used, has been developed. Ensure where a 'Permit to work on roofs' is raised, it is issued and communicated to those undertaking work, see Appendix 2

  • 4.1.4 ensure that all staff who work at height and those who issue 'permits to work on roofs', have appropriate information, instruction, training and supervision to ensure their competence, see Appendix 4 for training requirements.

  • 4.1.5 ensure that contractors do not start any work at height without having provided a suitable risk assessment and method statement.

  • 4.1.6 ensure that, where appropriate, all contractors employed are competent to work at height and are appropriately supervised when on site.
4.2 Directors shall:
  • 4.2.1 Appoint in writing one or more suitable qualified and experienced "Permit to work on roofs issuers"; see Appendix 4 for training requirements. The letter of appointment should define the geographic/equipment scope of their responsibilities and should be entered into the SHE Directory.
    4.2.1 Appoint in writing one or more suitable qualified and experienced "Permit to work on roofs issuers"; see Appendix 4 for training requirements. The letter of appointment should define the geographic/equipment scope of their responsibilities and should be entered into the SHE Directory.

  • 4.2.2 institute an audit of all roof areas (including internal structures such as experimental hutch roofs or mezzanines) under their control to assess requirements for edge protection where an existing suitable barrier does not provide adequate safety or to control unauthorised access to fragile roofs.

  • As a general rule at RAL, DL and their outstations the director responsible for RAL and DL estates is responsible for all roof areas associated with the fabric of buildings maintained by STFC.

  • 4.2.3 ensure a register of all roof areas under their control is maintained, identifying where access requires a "permit to work on roofs". See Appendix 3 for minimal dataset to be included in the register.

4.3 Permit to Work on Roofs issuers shall:
  • 4.3.1 not issue permits for work they are going to carry out themselves unless this has been countersigned by another permit to work on roofs issuer.

  • 4.3.2 assess all associated risks involved in working at height (see Appendix 1 for risk factors associated with working at height) and develop a safe system of work, including the selection and, where necessary, the appropriate inspection of suitable equipment.

  • 4.3.3 ensure all necessary precautions, including emergency procedures, have been communicated to the person in charge of the work.

  • 4.3.4 check the workplace before it is used and any work equipment that may have been installed or assembled prior to use and carry out inspections where required (see HSE Construction Information Sheet No 47 for more information).

  • 4.3.5 be responsible for the issue of the permit to work on roofs, for the management of staff and contractors while they are on site, and the cancellation of the permit to work on roofs.

  • 4.3.6 act upon any report of an activity or defect likely to endanger safety and report these to their line management see STFC SHE Code 5 Incident Reporting and Investigation.
4.4 Employees, users, tenants and contractors shall:
  • 4.4.1 assist line management with the assessment of risks. Inform them if they suspect that the system of work in place is ineffective or inadequate and do not work in area until it is safe to do so.

  • 4.4.2 comply with any method statement developed through risk assessment and any requirements of a permit to work on roofs;

  • 4.4.3 report all incidents (including near misses) and any defects in equipment to their manager or to their contract supervising officer, see SHE Code 5 - Incident reporting and investigation.
  • 4.4.4 inform line management of any known health issues that may preclude them from working at height
  • 4.4.5 carry out a basic pre-use inspection of any equipment and report any defects to their manager or supervisor.
4.5 SHE Group shall:
  • 4.6.1 maintain and make available to staff a list of authorised persons competent to issue permits to work on roofs.​

Contact: Baker, Gareth (STFC,DL,COO)