The Developer Eyes Blog
First Blog from Becky Wilcox
Date Added: 02/05/2014 08:34:59
Author: Becky Wilcox
Hi there, my name is Becky Wilcox and I am Developer Eyes’ Projects Director. 
When I was asked to write my first blog for our website I wasn’t sure where to start as things have been quite hectic of late to say the least.  Do I share with you my experience of starting a new business, my second pregnancy, moving house or the fact that I chose to take on all three at the same time?  I must be mad I can hear some of you say!   Oh, did I forget to mention the training course too?   Well, here goes!  
I am in the process of completing a Site Management Safety Training Scheme Course (SMSTS) and thought I would share some Health and Safety Information with you for my first blog.  It is a citb course that demonstrates how to meet the ever-increasing demand for evidence of sound health and safety management on site.

Working at Height

What is Work at Height?

Work at height means work in any place where, if precautions were not taken, a person could fall a distance liable to cause personal injury.  You are working at height if you:
  • Work above ground/floor level
  • Could fall from an edge, through an opening or fragile surface or
  • Could fall from ground level into an opening in a floor or a hole in the ground.
Work at height does not include a slip or a trip on the level, as a fall from height has to involve a fall from one level to a lower level, nor does it include walking up and down a permanent staircase in a building.

Common Work at Height Myths

HSE have banned the use of ladders on building sites

No, this isn’t the case. Ladders and stepladders can be a sensible and practical option. They can be used for work at height when the use of other work equipment is not justified because of the low risk and short duration (short duration means working on a ladder for no more than 30 minutes at a time); or when there are existing workplace or site features which cannot be altered.

You need to be formally ‘qualified’ before using a ladder at work

No, you do not.  You need to be competent. This means having the necessary skills, knowledge and experience to use a ladder properly for the work you will carry out, or, if you are being trained, you work under the supervision of somebody who can perform the task competently. Training often takes place on the job and does not always have to take place in a classroom. What matters is that an individual can apply what they have learned in the workplace.

I am working at height if I’m walking up and down a staircase at work

No, you are not. Work at height does not include walking up and down a permanent staircase in a building.

You need to have two feet and one hand on a stepladder at all times when carrying out a task

No, this isn’t true. When you need to have both hands free for a brief period to do a job using a stepladder (eg putting a box on a shelf, hanging wallpaper, installing a smoke detector on a ceiling) you need to maintain three points of contact at the working position.  This is not just two feet and one hand, it can be two feet and your body (use your knees or chest to help with stability) supported by the stepladder. Ensure a handhold is available to steady yourself before and after.

HSE has banned the use of ladders to access scaffolds and you will be fined if you ignore this ban

No, this isn’t true. Ladders can be used for access as long as they are of the right type (ie a suitable grade of industrial ladder), in good condition and effectively secured (tied) to prevent movement. You should ensure they extend at least one metre above the landing point to allow for a secure handhold when stepping off.


It is imperative that companies and individuals always risk assess the task they are undertaking and have the confidence to question unsafe working practices. 
Please see the link below from the HSE for more information on selecting the right access equipment and the WAIT tool kit.
I hope you have found this useful and I look forward to sharing another blog with you soon.
*Information provided from on 30/04/2014.
TAGS: health, safety, myths