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Daily Telegraph Friday 26th March

Posted by Londoner (Vince Green), 27 March 2004
Did any of you see the article on the front page?

It was about the new E.U. Working at Height Directive which ends its consultation stage on April 2nd and goes back to Brussels for ratification.

Someone has picked up that the new legislation will affect mountain climbers, effectively making it illegal.
The artice went on to point out that this was unfair because the directive was only intented to catch builders and window cleaners.

This directive has come up on this and other forums several times as different people have picked up on rumours that the E.U. are about to "ban ladders".

This is the first time to my knowledge that it has been in the papers.

Posted by Silly_Philly (Philip Hanson), 27 March 2004
For those who didnt, here is the full article:

Climbers may have to swap ropes for scaffolding and mountain walkers may have to negotiate warning signs telling them that snow is slippery, according to Brussels-inspired safety regulations.

The Temporary Work at Height Directive is aimed at protecting workers such as window cleaners and builders but leading figures in the outdoor sports industry warned yesterday that it was being applied wrongly and could drive them out of business.

Mountaineer Sir Chris Bonington, the chairman of the Outward Bound organisation's risk management committee, described it as a case of "the nanny state gone mad".

Attempts to make sporting activities exempt have so far failed, a three-year consultation by the Health and Safety Executive expires next week and draft legislation will go before Parliament in July.

Sir Chris said: "This is utter muddle-headed thinking. They are trying to apply rules to two totally separate activities whose only connection is that they are carried out at height.

"Instead of turning to the experts in the industry, the civil servants are telling them what they must do.

"The whole point of the outdoor industry is that there is an element of risk. It is all about learning how to manage that. Without that we all may as well pack up. It is utterly stupid." Included in the draft directive are instructions to carry out risk assessments of each task and place warnings on every hazard.

Working in "unfavourable weather conditions" would be discouraged and ropes only used if scaffolding or platforms cannot be employed.

"Lone working" would be banned, which would affect activity centres where one instructor guides a party of students.

Tim Blakemore, of the Dukeshouse Wood Centre in Hexham, Northumberland, said: "Do they really expect us to put up a sign on a snow field that it is slippery?

"Am I supposed to erect scaffolding up cliff faces? If this legislation is passed I cannot see this centre and many like it surviving."

An HSE spokesman said the final draft would not be drawn up until consultation closed on April 2. He added: "We are open to suggestions and agree there are some areas which will need revisiting."

Posted by simonb (simonb), 27 March 2004
So we can do the upstairs by swinging from a rope but we musn't use a ladder!
Posted by Silly_Philly (Philip Hanson), 27 March 2004
No, the article is saying ropes can't be used, if scaffolding can be erected.

Climbers may have to swap ropes for scaffolding

Working in "unfavourable weather conditions" would be discouraged and ropes only used if scaffolding or platforms cannot be employed.

Posted by Neil (wylie), 27 March 2004
Better start building up my round with bungalows then!!!  Huh

(or get a WFP) there I said it so you dont have to, lol  Grin

Posted by Ian_Giles (Ian_Giles), 27 March 2004
Oh good grief!
I have posted a humorous tongue in cheek guide to erecting a ladder, having read this posting and it's replies it doesn't seem so humorous and far fetched after all Cry

Posted by Londoner (Vince Green), 28 March 2004
The problem is that we keep hearing from different sources about this directive but we only get rumours or second hand ideas about what it really means.

Nothing definite seems to available to us. If it is in the consultation stage then who are they consulting with?

My guess is that it will be so wrapped up in red tape that it will take years to come into force
Posted by Silly_Philly (Philip Hanson), 28 March 2004

When will the regulations come into force in the UK, and what will they mean?

The process of a law made by the European parliament actually becoming law in the UK is as follows:

1.      European Parliament issues a DIRECTIVE in response to studies that it commissions with regard to a particular issue.  [In this case the Directive is the Temporary Work At Height Directive 2001/45/EC]

2.      The individual member states examine the directive and decide how to interpret its meaning.  For this directive in the UK, the Health and Safety Commission (an agency of the HSE) is the body that has done this.

3.      A Consultation Document is produced outlining how the UK government will apply the directive.  It includes the full draft of regulations and the original text produced by the EU.  It also includes guidance as to how the regulations will be applied.  Any interested parties are invited to comment on how the UK government has interpreted the directive.  

You can read the entire document here:  [The consultation for this document ends on the 2 April 2004]

4.      After the consultation process, the comments received are taken into account in producing a bill to be placed before parliament.

5.      Soon after this, the bill passes to the House of Lords, and then receives Royal Ascent.  The bill now becomes law in the UK.

Right now, we are at the stage that the consultation process is about to finish.  It may sound like a lengthy process, but it is not.  On page 30 of the consultative document the timetable is set out as follows:

The Work at Height Regulations 2004

Made . . . . 2004
Laid before parliament . . . 2004
Coming into force . . . 2004

Continued in part 2...
Posted by Silly_Philly (Philip Hanson), 28 March 2004
Part 2

How will it affect us?  (I have highlighted parts of interest)

Page 12 of the document states how the HSC defines “work at height” :

We understand that the intent of the Directive is that all work at height is covered, regardless of where or at what height it is performed. While traditionally in GB workat height has been defined as any work above 2 metres (based on the requirements in the CHSWR), research carried out in support of the Falls from Height Priority Programme has shown that around 60% of all major injuries are caused by falls from heights below 2m. We propose, therefore, to cover all work at height where there is a risk of personal injury.

The EU directive text regarding the use of ladders says:
Page 137

4.2.1. Ladders must be so positioned as to ensure their stability during use. Portable ladders must rest on a stable, strong, suitably-sized, immobile footing so that the rungs remain horizontal. Suspended ladders must be attached in a secure manner and, with the exception of rope ladders, so that they cannot be displaced and so that swinging is prevented.

4.2.2. The feet of portable ladders must be prevented from slipping during use by securing the stiles at or near their upper or lower ends, by any anti-slip device or by
any other arrangement of equivalent effectiveness. Ladders used for access must be long enough to protrude sufficiently beyond the access platform, unless other measures have been taken to ensure a firm handhold. Interlocking ladders and extension ladders must be used so that the different sections are prevented from moving relative to one another. Mobile ladders must be prevented from moving before they are stepped on.

Our HSC interprets this part with the following Regulations: Regulation 8 (i) (page 51)

3. A ladder shall be so positioned as to ensure its stability during use.

4. A suspended ladder shall be attached in a secure manner and so that, with the exceptionof a flexible ladder, it cannot be displaced and swinging is prevented.

5. The feet of a portable ladder shall be prevented from slipping during use by—
(a) securing the stiles at or near their upper or lower ends; or
(b) effective anti-slip or other effective stability devices; or
(c) any other arrangements of equivalent effectiveness.

6. A ladder used for access shall be long enough to protrude sufficiently above the place
of landing to which it provides access, unless other measures have been taken to ensure a firm

7. No interlocking or extension ladder shall be used unless its sections are prevented from moving relative to each other while in use.

8. A mobile ladder shall be prevented from moving before it is stepped on.

9. Where a ladder or run of ladders rises a vertical distance of 9 metres or more above its base, there shall, where reasonably practicable, be provided at suitable intervals sufficient safe landing areas or rest platforms.

10. Every ladder shall be used in such a way that—
(a) a secure handhold and secure support are always available to the user; and
(b) the user can maintain a safe handhold when carrying a load.

The guidance notes regarding this regulation are as follows:  (page 91)

119. Portable ladders (not step-ladders) should always be placed at the correct angle, which is around 75 degrees, or roughly one metre out for every four metres up. The feet of portable ladders should be prevented from slipping during use, e.g. by:
- Tying them effectively to an existing structure – securing them at the top is the best method; securing at the bottom or middle is not very
effective to prevent sideways slip unless it is done properly with equipment designed for the purpose;
- Using an appropriate ladder stabiliser or anti-slip devices;
- Having another worker “foot” the ladder. This is where someone stands on the bottom rung, and is only suitable when it is not practicable to secure the ladder in another way.

Not to be ignored, is the inspection regime for equipment used to work at height.  Regular, written reports must be produced including the following information (page 53)[regulation 12(7)]

1. The name and address of the person for whom the inspection was carried out.
2. The location of the work equipment inspected.
3. A description of the work equipment inspected.
4. The date and time of the inspection.
5. Details of any matter identified that could give rise to a risk to the health or safety of
any person.
6. Details of any action taken as a result of any matter identified in paragraph 5.
7. Details of any further action considered necessary.
8. The name and position of the person making the report.

Posted by Ian_Giles (Ian_Giles), 29 March 2004
Having read your various quotes, and should all of that come into force, have you any idea as too how that differs from what is already suppose to be in force?

And why do they have to write these things down in a way that is guaranteed to glaze your eyes?
Don't know about you, but I hate having to re-read a paragraph to understand it!

I do a few offices off ladders that would probably get me a severe rollicking as things stand.
As I understand it they (health and safety officers) generally make you stop what you are doing, teach you to suck eggs and tell you that you will be prosecuted if caught doing it again.
I am on the point of going over to WFP, wonder how long it will take them to inlflict legislation on the use off that too!


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