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Height of ignorance


The warning from 'leading specialists' - Consultants ignore risk of prosecution over new rules for working at height (NCE 21 April) is very misleading and contains incorrect statements.

No duties or requirements are placed on consultants in the new Work at Height Regulations (WHR) in relation to their role as designers. The new regulations only place duties on employers and persons at work.

The direct implication of these regulations for consultants is therefore limited to ensuring the safety of their own employees, or others under their direct control, when working at height (eg surveys/inspections). In this respect consultants should make themselves aware of their duties regarding planning, organisation, ensuring competence, etc.

Designers' duties in respect of considering work at height are set out in the Health & Safety at Work Act (HSWA), section three, and the Construction Design & Management Regulations (CDM). These have always required designers to consider the safety implications of their designs in respect of construction, maintenance, etc, the CDM ACoP drawing specific attention to the need to consider work at height.

Legislatively, therefore, nothing has changed for designers. Whether designers are complying with their HSWA/CDM duties is of course another debate.

David Watson, UK H&S Adviser, WSP Group plc, David.

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