Safety Alert for Working from MEWPs / Working Platforms Near or Over Water

The Health and Safety Authority is issuing this safety alert to highlight the need for stringent health and safety procedures when working at height above or near to water.


When work at height is carried out over or near water then a site specific risk assessment must be carried out by a competent person. The risks associated with water must also be considered during the selection of work equipment for this working at height. Factors such as water depth, tide changes, water flow and flood risks must be considered.

Employers must identify whether the greater risk of injury to the worker(s) is from falling from a height off the working platform or from drowning if the worker(s) or the platform falls into the water. The decision can then be made as to whether it is more appropriate to wear a suitable harness to address the fall risk or whether the risk of drowning would render the use of a harness unsafe. If the risk assessment determines there is a greater risk of drowning then appropriate life jackets / personal flotation devices should be worn and not harnesses. In this case any risk from fall from height should be controlled by means other than the use of harnesses.

An appropriate rescue plan must be in place for all work at height and work over or near water.

Key Steps:

  1. Risk assess the work including considering all specific hazards such as work near water.
  2. Select the most suitable work equipment for the job.
  3. Assess the risk of a fall from height and the risk of drowning and determine the appropriate controls to be put in place to best control these risks.
  4. Ensure an appropriate rescue plan is in place for the work.

Further information

September 2015