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Working at height

Working at height means working in a place where you could get injured by falling from a height. This applies where your workplace is at, above or below, ground level. It does not include a staircase in a permanent workplace.

Activities covered by working at height include:

  • using a kick stool or stepladder to access overhead shelving
  • hanging curtains in bays
  • changing lamps or ceiling tiles
  • using trestles and ladders to paint or clean
  • order picking using a fork-lift truck with an integrated platform
  • working on a ladder or scaffold

Your manager must carry out a risk assessment for working at height and put in place control measures for risks identified.

Working at height fact sheet (PDF, 364KB, 2 pages)

Kick stools

Kick stools are designed not to move when you apply weight to them.

Before using a kick stool you must:

  • ensure the wheels are running freely
  • ensure there is no debris on the wheels or steps
  • check that it locks into position when you put weight on it
  • check the rubber on the bottom of the stool is not damaged and is stuck down securely
  • wear appropriate footwear to ensure your stability when using a kick stool
  • avoid wearing clothes that you could catch your heel on when using the kick stool

Using a stepladder

Do

Don’t

It is important to visually check the stepladder for any signs of damage before use. If there are any obvious issues, report them to your manager immediately.

Don’t use a stepladder in an area where you could be knocked over. For example, behind a doorway or on a busy corridor.

Ensure surrounding areas are free from clutter with clear access to the stepladder.

Don’t twist your body to one side or stretch away from the ladder.

The stepladder must rest firmly on the floor without the risk of it slipping or moving during the task.

Don’t over-reach while on a stepladder. This will make your position on the stepladder unstable.

Always maintain at least 3 points of contact with the ladder (2 feet and a hand or 2 feet and your body).

Always face forwards while using the stepladder. Adjust the positioning of the ladder as needed.

Make sure your waist and hips stay within the vertical uprights and keep both feet on the steps.

Contact your occupational health service with any concerns about your medical fitness to do a task.

Visual check on stepladders

Before using a stepladder do a visual check on:

1. Safety handrail - ensure it is secure and free from damage.

2. Hinge - check that the hinge fully engages and is free from damage.

3. Step lock - the step lock must be clean and free from damage so that it fully engages and locks into place.

4. Feet rubber - rubber feet must be present and free from any damage that may cause the feet to slip when in use.

5. Uprights - ensure it is free of damage.

6. Steps (rungs) - ensure there is no damage and that the rungs are secure. The rubber mats must be firmly in place and secure.

7. Stays ­- some stepladders have stays that are attached to the front and back uprights. Ensure they are locked fully into position before use.

8. Labels - review the label for manufacturers’ notes about use and inspections.

Contact

Contact the Health and Safety helpdesk

Related documents

Use of kick stools and step ladders at low levels prompt sheet (Word, 30KB, 2 pages)

General risk assessment form (Word, 42KB, 2 pages)

Page last reviewed: 20/11/2020
Next review due: 20/11/2023