From construction sites to warehouse workers, and from industrialized nations to developing ones, workplace accidents are unfortunately too common. Injuries that can occur when working from heights, such as slips, trips, falls from height, being struck by a moving object, or even manual handling, count for nearly 67% of the total non-fatal workplace injuries in the UK.

Organizations such as the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have always strived to ensure workers are kept safe, provided the appropriate working at height training, and do not engage in risky work practices while working at dangerous elevations.

In this content piece, we will discuss how work at height is so dangerous, and why it is so important to protect workers in its related industries.

What Does Work at Height Mean?

Working at height refers to any work that is performed at an elevation above the ground, such as on a roof, ladder, scaffold, or elevated platform. This type of work can present significant safety hazards, such as falls from height, and can result in serious injury or death.

Employers are responsible for ensuring that their employees are properly trained and equipped to work safely at height, and that appropriate safety measures are in place to prevent falls. These measures may include the use of personal protective equipment, such as harnesses, and the use of fall protection systems, such as guardrails or safety nets.

What are the Types of Work at Height that are Risky?

Working at height carries an inherent risk, but there are safety measures that can help prevent injuries and accidents. There are several types of work at height that are considered particularly risky, including:

  • Working on Roofs

This type of work can range from working on the roof of a building or structure or even for a small suburban home. Roof work is usually conducted for repairs, maintenance, or construction. Roofs can be steep and slippery, and may not have adequate fall protection systems in place.

  • Working on a Scaffolding

Scaffolding is a temporary platform used for construction or maintenance. Scaffolds can be unstable and may not be properly assembled, increasing the risk of falls. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there are about 4,500 injuries per year from scaffolding accidents.

  • Working with Ladders

Work at height includes working on ladders, which can be unstable and difficult to balance. Falls from ladders can be particularly dangerous, as they can result in serious injuries such as head trauma or broken bones. There are also multiple regulations on the proper use of ladders, their maintenance, safety, etc.

  • Working Using an Elevated Platform

This includes working on platforms that are elevated above the ground, such as cranes, cherry pickers, lifts, and other types of elevated work platforms. These platforms can be unstable and may not have adequate fall protection systems in place, such as proper railings and guard rails.

Work at Height Accidents are Usually Through Negligence and Poor Safety Procedures

As mentioned, working at height is inherently dangerous. However, lax safety procedures, gross negligence, and even ignorance of the laws and safety procedures are rampant across industries with this type of work.

A survey published by the Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR) noted that poor planning was a primary cause of falls from height. Moreover, half of the respondents didn’t even properly check the safety equipment before use, which is strictly necessary before each use under both OSHA guidelines and the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) and Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER) regulations in the UK.

These results show that most of the accidents caused in these industries are entirely preventable, which is especially important for a job that carries such a high level of risk by default.

How Can Employers Neglect Safety for Working at Height?

Whether it is the contractor or the company hiring the contractor, all parties need to keep safety practices in check. From providing proper training to ensuring that the enacted laws and regulations are followed, safety should always be given the highest priority, regardless of how it affects project timelines or deadlines.

As the CPWR survey shows, having laws and regulations is not enough. From hefty fines to proper enforcement, legislators need to ensure that companies have a vested interest in following these practices so that negligence does not become as prevalent as it has been.

Employers regularly miss safety checks and inspections for safety equipment, leading to safety harnesses being worn, damaged, broken, and still being used. Moreover, proper planning should include the full risk assessments and risk control procedures as a mandatory priority, rather than an optional part of the process.


The risks of working at height are apparent, but safety needs to be properly enforced and upheld. Most of the injuries and accidents are entirely preventable, and here we have discussed what you need to know about the risks of working at height, and how these risks occur.