In April 2005 a new set of Regulations came into force known as the Working at Height Regulations 2005. The need for such regulations was identified by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) due to the large number of accidents associated with working at height, many of which resulted in death. The regulations place duties on employers to ensure that in any requirement for an employee to work at height all the factors involved in the planning, organisation and provision of access equipment have been given due attention to ensure safety of those individuals involved has been maintained. The provision of any access equipment has to be given much more consideration than simply assuming that existing equipment is fit for all the tasks it is being used for.
To ensure that the PCC of St Mary’s Church Sheering has appropriate measures in place around all of its premises, which are consistent with maintaining safety and thus compliance with the Regulations.
Working at height will include any place where there is a potential to fall from one level to another. This would include the use of step stools, ‘elephants foot’ stools, stepladders, ladders, specialist access equipment, ie cherry pickers, traditional scaffold, quick-fit scaffolds etc. It will also include work on any roof area or any platform or intermediary area where access has to be achieved using any of the aforementioned equipment.
The policy will apply to anyone working in any part of the church, church room or churchyard. Whilst it is not the intention to include independent contractors working in church property or grounds, it will be expected that the standards described within the policy will be adopted as a minimum requirement by anyone carrying out work on our church premises. When the PCC employs contractors to work at height, it is our policy that specific enquiry will be made to ensure that the Contractor has their own working at height policy and insurance and that they understand their own responsibilities in this regard.
It is expected that there will be many occasions where it is necessary to work at a relatively low level.
- Setting flower arrangements on high window ledges and column heads
- Storing boxes and items on high shelves in the vestry and the church room store cupboard etc.
- Decorating the Christmas tree
There will also be a few occasions when it may be necessary to work at a significant height. On these occasions extra care needs to be taken. Expected tasks involving working at significant height are:
- Changing light bulbs
- Cleaning light fittings
- Hanging banners
- Fitting curtains and curtain poles
- Correcting the time at the church clock face (from within the clock tower).
On all occasion where there is a requirement for someone to work at height, the following “rules” will apply:
- Before using any equipment to gain additional height, a visual inspection will be made to ensure that the equipment being employed is fit for use. If any faults are discovered, the planned work will be deferred until new equipment is made available or the existing equipment is repaired.
- No individual will work at height without another person being present
- On all occasions where steps and ladders are used to provide a working level more than one metre over the surrounding area, care will be taken to ensure that a working mobile ‘phone will be available to call for help should the need arise.
- Ladders should be “footed” or tethered to ensure the feet cannot slip.
- The danger of items or tools falling from height must be considered.
- If it is necessary to work at height for longer than half an hour short rest breaks or refreshment breaks should be considered as part of the planning to ensure that no one becomes overtired.
- Care should be taken not to over-reach when working from ladders or platforms
- Scheduled work should be deferred if weather or lighting conditions are poor.
In all cases, due consideration must be given to the advice contained in the attached publication “Working at height – a brief guide” published by the Health and Safety Executive leaflet INDG401(rev2)