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Access chiefs slam the two-metre rule

NEWS - Construction Confederation backing for height rule 'ill-founded and unnecessary'

THE ACCESS Industry Forum has hit out at the Construction Confederation's backing for the two-metre rule in the new Work at Height regulations, currently being drafted by the Health and Safety Executive.

Leaders of the forum - which has seven trade bodies among its membership, including the National Access and Scaffolding Confederation and the International Powered Access Federation - said that the confederation's support for the two-metre rule was 'ill-founded and unnecessary' In the new WAHR regulations, designed to bring the UK in line with the European Temporary Work at Height directive published last December, the statutory requirement to put safety measures in place on work at height above two metres was removed.

The Health and Safety Executive argued that setting a height above which certain precautions, such as guardrails, must be taken fails to recognise that many serious accidents occur below two metres.

But the AIF is bitterly disappointed by the HSE's U-turn with its decision to go out for further consultation over the inclusion of the two-metre rule, saying it would fly in the face of the new regulations and undermine its work on goal-setting and risk assessment principles.

Its letter - also sent to Health and Safety Commission chairman Bill Callaghan - states: 'We would prefer that the construction industry join our other client industries in working with us to attain the goals set out in the WAHR instead of reverting to the anachronistic two-metre rule, which puts them out of step with the rest of British industry and which, instead of taking us forward, takes us two steps backward.'

Although its health and safety director Andy Sneddon was unavailable for comment, the Construction Confederation has argued that the two-metre rule recognises practical industry realities by retaining explicit requirements with work above two metres.

And it maintains that the existing Construction (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations already require controls regardless of height.

n See Letters, page 14