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Which rules apply with respect to working at a height?

Falling is the greatest danger when working at a height. A safe environment, approved climbing material and the safe use of this reduce the risk.

There are many statutory regulations concerning the material and its use. The most commonly occurring rules are given below. 

Use in general

  • Ensure a stable and flat base. 
  • Take extra precautions if the climbing material needs to be placed in front of a door; prevent the use of the door. 
  • In the case of metal climbing materials look out for non-insulated electrical sources; place the climbing material at least 2 metres from these. 
  • Wear safe footwear, preferably shoes with profiled soles or safety shoes.
  • Use head protection if there is a large chance of hitting your head (safety helmet).

Quality climbing material

  • Check the climbing material before use; note the approval date when doing this.
  • Ensure regular maintenance and inspection by approved experts.

Use of stepladders

  • Ensure that stepladders are fully unfolded. 
  • Do not use the top steps unless you can hold on safely. 
  • A stepladder with platform must have a support brace of at least 60 cm.

Use of ladders
Ladders may only be used for incidental jobs (shorter than 4 hours) in case little strength is needed and the relevant task can be carried out at an arm's length. Otherwise scaffolding or a tower wagon must be used.

  • Place a ladder at about 70º to the ground (a measure for this is: stand upright with the toes against the ladder; with outstretched arms you should just be able to grab the ladder). 
  • Ensure a ladder cannot slip or use a ladder with ladder shoes. 
  • Place a ladder against a firm, weight-bearing surface. 
  • Do not lean too far to one side; work within your span. 
  • Stand with both feet on the ladder. 
  • Use ladders of the right height. The ladder must stick out at least 1 metre above the place where you want to work. 
  • The pull-up rope from an extension ladder must be fixed to a step; the overlap between parts must be at least two steps. 
  • In the case of a three-part combination ladder, which is used as an ordinary stepladder, never climb the third part of the ladder above the pivoting point. 

Use of scaffolding 
When working at a height of 2.5 metres or more, use scaffolding, a tower scaffold, platform or a working floor.

  • Scaffolding may only be erected by an experienced scaffolder. 
  • If there is a chance of electrocution then the scaffolding must be earthed. 
  • Climb the scaffolding correctly. 
  • Material may not be stacked up to more than a height of 0.55 metres on the scaffolding unless fencing is used. 
  • Ensure the stability of the scaffolding by paying due attention to the base, the locking of the wheels and the surroundings (doors, people passing by). 

Safety harness
A safety harness must be worn at locations that cannot be made safe enough, such as work locations at height and sloping roofs.