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Making safety a high priority to protect your people

Working at height is the biggest risk to the modern electrician, so it’s essential to ensure you and your staff follow this vital advice before you start

The highest cause of workplace deaths isn’t electric shocks – it’s falling from height. And in an electrician’s world, it’s often not an initial shock that causes a fatality, but the subsequent fall.

The Building Safety Group (BSG) considers working at height the biggest danger on construction sites, backed up by our latest report which found that it accounted for 28% of all breaches recorded during 15,000 site inspections. 

Our figures are echoed by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which reported that more than 5,000 people were injured in 2022/23 due to a fall from height, 40 of which were fatalities. The potential risks are therefore clear, but preparation and attention to detail will help reduce risk.

Pay attention to legislation

There are many ways to mitigate risk but they must be implemented from a deep understanding of all relevant legislation. Doing so will not only help to mitigate risk but help ensure that those responsible for the safety of others are acting in accordance with HSE guidance. The HSE states, for example, that those in control of any work at height activity must make sure that work is properly planned, supervised and carried out by competent people.

Perform a pre-use inspection

Those that work at height who have received quality training will be competent and well-equipped to carry out a thorough pre-use inspection of all equipment. They will also be able to check whether all relevant certification is in place. This is essential. Site inspections and formal checks should also be carried out by third party qualified experts such as the BSG on a regular basis. Typically, this is annually, but it depends on the application and frequency of use, among other factors.

Attention to detail is vital to protect your staff from harm

Mitigate the risks

Follow the hierarchy of control for working at height which means, if at all possible, eliminate the risk entirely. If it’s unavoidable, then select collective measures to help prevent falls, such as guardrails and working platforms. If this isn’t possible, then minimise the distance and consequences of a fall by working in fall restraint. Working in fall arrest should be a last resort.

Select the right equipment…

For work to be carried out safely and efficiently, the right equipment must be in place, whether it’s permanent or temporary guardrails, fall restraint or fall arrest equipment. All equipment must also be compatible with each other, such as PPE and engineered systems. It’s vital to recognise that a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach will often not improve employee wellbeing or safety. If items cannot be used in unison and/or do not fit properly, then this could lead to inadequate protection. 

…and ensure it’s high quality

All equipment used should be designed and manufactured in compliance with essential health and safety requirements. Achieve peace of mind that this is the case by partnering with a quality, reputable manufacturer and choose equipment based on the job at hand: Can it be done from ground level? What space is available? What are the risks? Asking pertinent questions will help when selecting equipment and, ultimately, help mitigate risks.

Have a rescue plan in place

Importantly, when working within fall arrest, together with all relevant PPE, a rescue plan must be in place, in accordance with the Working at Height Regulations 2005. It’s not just the responsibility of the emergency services. Furthermore, any delay in the emergency services arriving on site could be critical for the worker. Assistance in the development and implementation of a comprehensive rescue plan is a typical by-product of top-quality training.

Do nothing without training

Employers have a responsibility under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 to provide suitable information, instruction and training for employees. Training gives those that work at height the confidence, knowledge and skills required to do so safely and efficiently. High-quality training should cover both work at height theory and practical exercises, including proper inspection of PPE and the execution of relevant risk assessments and method statements.

Got your PPE?

PPE plays a vital role in mitigating the potential risks associated with working at height. The PPE chosen should be appropriate for the job at hand and be safe and comfortable. A more comfortable worker typically makes for a more productive worker. All PPE should be suitable for the work activity being undertaken and also the prevailing environmental conditions. Compatibility with other fall protection equipment is also vitally important. 


Short Cuts


The following are also available on the FREE BSG Hub for SELECT Members:

  • Risk assessment: Working at height from ladders

  • Industry guidance: Roofedge protection 

  • Use of nets industry guidance: Recommended practice for work on profiled sheeted roofs

For further information about working at height or other health and safety issues, call 0300 304 9070 or visit


SELECT Members automatically qualify for FREE advice and practical resources from the BSG worth £750. Signing up is quick and easy – all you need is your membership number. To find out more and get started, click here.

Article sources: BSG, HSE and HCL Safety


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