Safe Working at Height

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Safe Working at Height

Before undertaking work at height, follow these simple steps:

  1. Avoid Work at Height – where it is reasonably practicable to do so
  2. Take Precautions – where work at height cannot be avoided, prevent falls using either an existing place of work that is already safe, or selecting appropriate equipment
  3. Minimise – the distance and consequences of a fall, by using the right type of equipment where the risks cannot be eliminated.

Working at Height continues to be the greatest causal factor for fatalities and serious injury in construction, predominantly from relatively low heights (2-3 metres above ground level). Roof work is high-risk. Falls from roofs, through fragile roofs and fragile roof lights are one of the most common causes of workplace death and serious injury.

All work at height must be adequately planned, risk assessed and organised to avoid, or at least reduce, risks as low as reasonably practicable. The key messaging from the Health and Safety Authority is to:

  • Carry out risk assessments for work at height activities and make sure that all work is planned, organised, and carried out by a competent person.
  • Follow the ‘General Principles of Prevention’ for managing risks from work at height, taking steps to avoid, prevent or reduce risks.
  • Chose appropriate work equipment and prioritise collective measures to prevent falls (such as guard rails and working platforms) before other measures which may only reduce the distance and consequences of a fall (such as nets or airbags) or may only provide fall-arrest through personal protection equipment.

The HSA affords access to a wealth of information on its webpage:

HILTI recommends three methods to be employed to make working at height safer:

  1. Cordless Tools – they are lighter than regular tools, but the absence of a cord means they are perfect for working at height and avoiding potentially dangerous tangles.
  2. Tool Tethers – a tool tether is a preventative measure for dropping a tool from height. The shock-absorbing bungee-style tether will catch a dropped tool, reducing damage and preventing injury to workers.
  3. Direct Fastening – direct fastening is a great alternative to traditional drilling and fixing methods, which typically require more tools and moving parts, not to mention movements. Products such as the DX pole tool allow for work to be undertaken from the ground, eliminating work at height.

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Slips, Trips and Falls

Recent data from the Health and Safety Authority has identified the top 5 triggers associated with non-fatal injuries in construction over the past 5 years; these are:

Trigger No. of Injuries
Fall on same level (slip, stumble etc.) 712
Lifting, carrying 560
Fall from height 519
Other (not listed) 366
Pushing, pulling 316
Totals 2,473


As verified by the HSA statistics, slips trips and falls on the same level are relatively common and may result in personal injury. In fact, the Agency has determined that every working day, 7 persons are hurt in workplace slips, trips and falls. The following advice is offered:

Good housekeeping is a proactive means for addressing the risk of slips, trip and falls in the workplace. Adoption of a ‘clean-as-you-go’ approach has proven effective in minimising the associated risks.


AB Access Scaffolding Ltd – Scaffolding Site Audit – Design Request Form

20th September 2023 pdf (956.91 KB)

AB Access Scaffolding Ltd – Scaffold Specification Template

20th September 2023 pdf (1.21 MB)

Toolbox talk on Ladders & Safe Working at Height

20th September 2023 docx (36.31 KB)

NASAC – Dos and Don’ts on Scaffolds

20th September 2023 pdf (1.09 MB)

HSE (UK) – Safe Use of Ladders and Stepladders

20th September 2023 pdf (1.81 MB)

CIF Management of Temporary Works Design

20th September 2023 pdf (5.28 MB)

CIF Guidance – Interacting with Emergency Services

20th September 2023 docx (382.01 KB)

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Useful Videos

Recorded Webinar for CIF Construction Safety Week 2022

The CIF has pre-recorded a 20-min. panel discussion with industry experts, specific to the theme of ‘Safe Working at Height’ for CIF Construction Safety Week 2022.

Dermot Carey (CIF) is joined by Wayne Byrne (John Sisk & Son Ltd.), Eamon Kenny (John Paul Construction) and Keith Dwyer (Summit Scaffolding & National Association of Scaffolders and Access Contractors, NASAC).

A toolbox talk on Ladders & Safe Working at Height was provided by Michael Murphy, Laois Scaffolding Hire Ltd. and may be downloaded here:

Toolbox talk on Ladders & Safe Working at Height

20th September 2023 docx (36.31 KB)

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