When is someone competent to work at height?

When is someone competent to work at height?

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) states that in on order to comply with the Work at Height Regulations 2005, you must ensure that those involved in work at height are competent, by what does “competent” mean officially?

The Oxford Dictionary’s definition of “competent” is:

Having the necessary ability, knowledge, or skill to do something successfully.

Oxford Dictionary

From a legal perspective, The HSE provides a little more detail around the wording of the Regulations on their website:

You should make sure that people with sufficient skills, knowledge and experience are employed to perform the task, or, if they are being trained, that they work under the supervision of somebody competent to do it.

In the case of low-risk, short duration tasks involving ladders, competence requirements may be no more than making sure employees receive instruction on how to use the equipment safely (eg how to tie a ladder properly) and appropriate training. Training often takes place on the job, it does not always take place in a classroom.

When a more technical level of competence is required, for example drawing up a plan for assembling a complex scaffold, existing training and certification schemes drawn up by trade associations and industry is one way to help demonstrate competence.


The Health and Safety Executive

To find out more about working at height and general roof safety, follow our blog or contact us if you have a specific query.

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