How do the Work at Height Regulations (WAHR) apply to injury claims?

Falls from height are the single biggest cause of fatal workplace accidents in the United Kingdom, as well as one of the most common causes of serious injuries in the workplace.

A person who has sustained personal injury due to a fall from a ladder or other workplace accident may be entitled to claim compensation. The relatives of a person who has died because of a workplace fall may also be entitled to claim compensation.

The Work at Height Regulations 2005

The Work at Height Regulations 2005 ('the Regulations'), which were amended in 2007, are intended to protect persons working at height by imposing a number of safety-related duties on employers.

What does 'work at height' mean?

Regulation 2(1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 ('the Regulations') defines 'work at height as':

"(a) work in any place, including a place at or below ground level; and

(b) obtaining access to or egress from such place while at work, except by a staircase in a permanent workplace,

where, if measures required by these Regulations were not taken, a person could fall a distance liable to cause personal injury."

The Regulations do not stipulate a minimum height above which a person is regarded as working at height.

So, for example, a worker who is standing on a stepladder in order to stack books and a steel erector working several hundred feet above the ground would both be covered by the Regulations.

Someone slipping on a level floor, such as an office floor, will not be covered by the Regulations, nor will someone who has fallen or tripped on a permanent staircase. Of course, such a person may still be able to claim compensation if their accident was caused by someone else's negligence.

Obligations on an employer

The Regulations impose a number of safety-related obligations on an employer.

An employer should avoid having employees work at height if it is reasonably practicable to do so.

If, however, it is necessary for an employee to work at height, an employer must carry out a risk assessment before the job is undertaken. The job must be properly planned and supervised.

Employees should be able to get to and leave their workplace safely.

Employers should consider collective safety measures, such as a guard rail, that protect everyone at risk before measures that protect only the individual.

Suitable collective and personal safety equipment must be used and should be regularly checked and maintained.

An employer must ensure that an employee who is required to work at height has sufficient skills, knowledge and experience to perform the task. An employee who is being trained must work under the supervision of a competent person.

Falling objects

The Regulations also contain provisions intended to protect people from falling objects.

Employers are obliged to take suitable and sufficient steps to prevent any person from being struck by a falling object which is likely to cause personal injury.

In addition, employers must ensure that nothing is thrown or tipped from height if it is likely to cause injury to any person.

The Work at Height (Amendment) Regulations 2007

An amendment made to the regulations in 2007 primarily relate to climbing and caving, including recreation and team building activities. The amendment relates to the safe number of ropes to use in such activities, clarifying when a single rope may be used, rather than the two ropes required by earlier legislation.

The amendment may apply to adventure training accident claims involving climbing or caving.

What should I do if I think I have a claim?

You may be entitled to claim compensation if:

  • you have been injured as a result of a fall from height at work; or
  • you are the relative of a person who has died as a result of a fall from a height at work; or
  • you have been injured due to being struck by an object that has fallen from a workplace; or
  • you are the relative of a person who has died due to being struck by an object that has fallen from a workplace

See also:

Falls from a ladder claims

Workplace accident claims

Employers' liability claims claims

Work accident claims are also known as employers' liability claims. Click on the icons below for more information:

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