The HSE and Work at Height regulations 2005 state that all regulations apply to situations ‘where there is a risk of a fall liable to cause personal injury.’ And, as an employer although it is important to guarantee that your workers are safe while working at heights, if they do fall, there should be a rescue plan in place.

However, even if you have a fall protection system in place or are using the 3 points of contact rule, they won’t guarantee that your team won’t get injured while at work.

If an injury does happen while working at height, a rescue plan will help mitigate this risk and decrease your teams’ chances of serious injury.

Unsure how to develop a plan? Read on to find out more.


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What should a working at height rescue plan cover?

The HSE states that rescue plans must be regularly assessed and updated. In order to make sure your working at height rescue plan is functional for your business, you should ensure that your plan enables you to:

  • Get people down safely and quickly.
  • Make sure there are always suitable anchoring points for the rescue equipment and rescue equipment is suitable for use.
  • Ensure your teams know how to attach people to the rescue equipment and move the individual safely and quickly.
  • Be aware of any medical needs of your team that may affect them during their rescue, as these need to be taken into consideration for your working at height rescue plan.

What emergencies should your rescue plan cover?

When working at height, rescue plans shouldn’t just cover expected falls from a height. Although there are typical accidents that cover working at a height, such as falling from a ladder or from a frame, there are many scenarios that could lead to emergency rescues.

These include scenarios such as:

  • Slipping on a surface. Even though you’re working at height, there is still the potential for slip hazards. If a member of your team does slip and injure themselves enough that they are unable to climb down, you need a rescue plan to ensure they reach the ground safely.
  • Concussions caused from a falling object. When creating your working at height rescue plan, it is vital that you also consider on-site hazards, as although they may not fall, if a member of your team has passed out or is concussed, they still need to be carried down in a safe manner.
  • Unexpected medical emergencies. Even if you’re following all procedures, a member of your team could have a medical emergency such as a heart attack or stroke. Similarly to the above, you need to consider how to carry a member of your team down in a safe manner so they are able to receive medical attention.

Ultimately, even if you’re working at a height, this does not mean that you should only plan for accidents that only include falling. While this is the biggest risk, this does not mean that any other unexpected accident could occur to a member of your team while working at height.

For anyone in rescue, it’s important that the standard first aid recovery position is still adopted.

What you should consider for your working at height rescue plan

When building your working at height rescue plan, you need to:

Provide information for your team. Ultimately, it is your responsibility to ensure that there is a plan in place. But, there’s no point in having a working at height rescue plan if you and your team members aren’t or can’t follow it. To avoid this, make sure your team is always supervised while working at height to ensure they are being as safe as possible and, in order to achieve that, inform them of their rescue plan. To make sure they understand what to do in an emergency, have on-site demonstrations or training.

Consider your distance from emergency services. Either way, the guidance suggests that you should never rely on emergency services as your main resume plan. While you should alert them as soon as someone falls and they will be able to offer first aid support, you should guarantee everyone on site knows what to do in an emergency situation to ensure an injured worker is looked after as quickly as possible.

Maintain your safety equipment. Much like your regular safety equipment while working at height, your emergency safety equipment should also be maintained, looked after and inspected regularly to ensure it’s fit for purpose.

Ensure you’re using a suitable safety system. Having an overly complex or the wrong safety system in place while working at height could be creating issues. To avoid this, you should consider how to minimise and reduce working at height as well as if you’re using the right fall protection system for the task at hand.

Minimise prolonged suspension. When a person is suspended at height after an accident, they need to be carried down as quickly and as safely as possible. If suspended for a long period of time, members of your team could fall into syncope or a sudden loss of consciousness with spontaneous recovery. Signs of this include light-headedness, faintness, nausea and numbness.

Practice makes perfect

Don’t leave your workers safety up to chance - whatever height you’re working on, create a working at height rescue plan so if an accident does occur, your team will be as safe as possible.

To make sure your team understands this, don’t just provide them with an uninteresting hand-out. Run demonstrations and get your team involved so everyone knows what to do if a real accident were to occur.

In order to further ensure your team will be as safe as possible, you should consider creating a more robust fall arrest system. While it won’t mitigate the need for a rescue plan, it may allow you and your team more time to react.



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