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Working at Height: Is 999 Enough for your Safety Plan?

You go on any Safe Work at Height, Rope Access or Rope Rescue course and it is drummed into you again and again about the required control measures for the activity.

These include: ‘Safe Systems of Work ‘(SSoW) as well as properly planned and accurate Risk Assessments and Method Statements which are a part of your pre job planning (or should be).

Part of the method statement is given over to the Emergency or Rescue Plan. Should things go a 'bit wrong!'

Regulation 4 (2) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 state that 'Planning of work includes planning for emergencies and rescue.'

When contemplating working at height, and in particular when considering the use of any fall arrest system, employers need to consider any emergency or rescue procedures that may be required and the drawing up of a specific height rescue plan. It is not acceptable just to rely on the emergency services. This plan is part of the overall working at height plan that encompasses the complete SSoW.

The key is to get the person down safely in the shortest possible time and before the emergency service response.

Scary Things that Happen

We heard in the past and unfortunately still hear of businesses both large and small across the United Kingdom doing work at height activities that do not provide their staff with a full and complete method statement and as part of that document, a rescue plan. They may issue the personal protection equipment for work positioning and fall arrest but neglect the little used elements of an emergency plan.

They’d rather save time and money by utilising 999 if necessary.


say you run a small telecommunications business. You've got an employee, who you are going to send out to do planned maintenance to a remotely located mast. It a Safe Work at Height (SWAH) job.

But as it’s only a one person job, is it alright to send one person?

If fall portection equipment is being used and an incident occurs ending with a fallen worker, potentially suspended on the structure, who can call for help or use the reequired rescue equipment to perform a recovery?

So in our view of the original question of one person job, definitely not!

the usual reply is: 'We've been doing it this way for years, nothing ever goes wrong so why change'.

The Basic Elements of a Rescue Plan (Part of your Method Statement)

You, as the employer need to consider the steps needed should the rescue of a fallen worker need to be performed at your work site. This emergency plan needs to be written at the same time as your specific risk assessments and method statement.

There are three options for your rescue plan that need to be considered:

  1. Self-Rescue – Where the person recovers themselves (Not always possible).
  2. Peer Rescue – The  casualty is rescued by the other workers present and the emergency services are called to support using on site rescue equipment.
  3. On Site Rescue Team – A team of trained rescue staff who are there ready to assist in any emergency on site. These can be from your own organisation or from a third party brought in to ensure you have the best protection for your staff and subsequently your company.

At Red Kite we can help with your risk assessments, method statements and emergency rescues plan and provide Trained Staff to be on site should the unthinkable happen.

Contact Us to see how we can help.

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