NR35 – Working at Heights

(Last amendment on March 23, 2012)

35.1 Purpose and Scope

35.1.1 This standard establishes minimum requirements and protective measures for working at heights, involving the planning, organization and implementation, in order to ensure the safety and health of workers involved directly or indirectly with this activity.

35.1.2 Any activity performed 2.00 m above floor level, where there is a risk of falling, is considered working at heights.

35.1.3 This standard is complemented by the official technical standards established by the competent bodies and, in the absence or omission of these, by the relevant international standards.

35.2 Responsibilities

35.2.1 It is up to employer:

a) to ensure that the protective measures set out in this standard are implemented;

b) to ensure that the Risk Analysis is conducted, and where applicable, the Work Permit is issued;

c) to develop operational procedures for routine works at heights;

d) to ensure that prior assessment for working at heights is conducted, by studying, planning and implementing applicable additional safety measures and actions;

e) to take necessary measures to monitor contracted companies’ compliance with the protective measures set out in this standard;

f) to ensure that workers are informed on the risks and control measures;

g) to ensure that any work at height starts only after the protective measures defined in this standard are adopted;

h) to ensure that any work at heights is suspended when unforeseen risk condition or situation, of which immediate elimination or neutralization is impossible, occurs ;

i) to establish a permit to work system for works at heights;

j) to ensure that any work at heights is carried out under supervision, in a form defined by risk analysis in accordance with the peculiarities of activity;

k) to ensure that the documentation prescribed in this standard is organized and archived.

35.2.2 It is up to workers:

a) to comply with the laws and regulations on working at heights, including the procedures issued by the employer;

b) to collaborate with the employer in implementing the provisions of this standard;

c) to stop their activities whenever they find evidence of serious or imminent risk to their and others’ health and safety, exercising their right to refuse, and immediately informing their superiors, who shall take appropriate measures;

d) to ensure health and safety of their own and others that might be affected by their activities or omissions at work.

35.3. Qualification and Training

35.3.1 The employer shall promote a training program for workers working at heights.

35.3.2 Those who are submitted and approved in training, theoretical and practical, with a minimum course load of eight hours, which shall include minimum following content, are considered qualified to work at heights:

a) Standards and regulations applicable to working at heights;

b) Risk analysis and impeding conditions;

c) Potential risks inherent to working at heights and, preventive and control measures;

d) Personal protective equipments for working at heights: selection, inspection, conservation and limitation of use;

e) Typical accidents in working at heights;

f) Emergency situations, including notions of rescue techniques and first aid.

35.3.3 The employer shall provide periodic trainings every two year and whenever there is any of the followings:

a) change in work procedures, conditions or operations;

b) event indicating the need for further training;

c) return to work after more than ninety days;

d) change in company. Periodic trainings shall have a minimum course load of eight hours, according to content defined by the employer. In the cases provided in paragraphs “a”, “b”, “c”, and “d”, the course load and the content shall meet the situations that motivated.

35.3.4 The initial, periodic and occasional training for working at heights can be given in together with other trainings of the company.

35.3.5 The training shall preferably be carried out during normal working hours. The time spent in training shall be computed as effective work time.

35.3.6 The trainings shall be taught by instructors with proven proficiency in the subject, under the responsibility of qualified professional in safety at work.

35.3.7 At the end of the training, a certificate containing the employee’s name, content of training, course load, date and location of the training, name and qualification of instructors and signature of responsible person shall be issued. The certificate shall be given to the employee and a copy shall be archived in the company.

35.3.8 The trainings shall be recorded in the employee record.

4 Planning, Organization and Implementation

35.4.1 All work at heights shall be planned, organized and performed by trained and authorized workers. Those trained workers, whose health conditions are assessed and being considered suitable for working at heights and having formal approval of the company, are considered authorized to work at heights. It is up to employer to evaluate the health status of workers working at heights, ensuring that:

a) the examinations and evaluation system are integral part of the Occupational Health Examination Program – PCMSO, and shall be recognized herein;

b) the evaluation is carried out periodically, considering the risks involved in each situation;

c) the medical examination focused on conditions that may cause sudden illness and falls is performed, also considering the psychosocial factors. The ability to work at heights shall be reflected in certificate of medical fitness of the worker. The company shall maintain updated records that allow one to know the scope of the authorization of each employee to work at heights.

35.4.2 The work at heights shall be planned in accordance with the following hierarchy:

a) measures to avoid work at heights whenever there are alternative ways to perform the work;

b) measures that eliminate the risk of falling whenever there are no other ways to perform the work;

c) measures that minimize the consequences of falls whenever the risk of falling cannot be eliminated.

35.4.3 All work at heights shall be carried out under supervision, in a form defined by risk analysis in accordance with the peculiarities of activity.

35.4.4 External influences that may change the work conditions already contained in the risk analysis shall be considered.

35.4.5 Any work at heights shall be preceded by Risk Analysis. Risk Analysis shall consider followings, in addition to the risks inherent to work at heights:

a) the place where the work will be performed and its surroundings;

b) isolation and posting signs in the vicinity of the work area;

c) establishment of anchorage points and systems;

d) adverse weather conditions;

e) selection, inspection, method of use and limitation of use of collective and personal protective systems, in the view of current technical standards, guidelines of the manufacturers and the principles of reducing the impact and fall factors;

f) risk of falling materials and tools;

g) simultaneous works that present specific risks;

h) compliance with health and safety requirements in other regulatory standards;

i) additional risks;

j) impeding conditions;

k) emergency situations and planning of rescue and first aid, to reduce the time of inert suspension of the worker;

l) need for communication system;

m) form of supervision

35.4.6 For routine works at heights, risk analysis can be considered in operational procedures. The operational procedures for routine works at heights shall include at least:

a) guidelines and requirements of the task;

b) administrative guidelines;

c) details of the task;

d) risk control measures for routine works;

e) impending conditions;

f) necessary collective and personal protective systems;

g) competences and responsibilities

35.4.7 Non-routine works at heights shall be previously authorized by Work Permit. Control measures for non-routine works at heights shall be evidenced in the Risk Analysis and Work Permit.

35.4.8 Work Permit shall be issued, approved by the responsible person for authorizing the permit, made available at work area, and ultimately, closed and archived so as to allow traceability. The work permit shall contain:

a) minimum requirements to be met to perform the work;

b) provisions and measures set out in the Risk Analysis;

c) list of all those involved and their authorizations. Work Permit shall be valid for duration of the activity, restricted to the work shift, and can be revalidaded by person responsible for the approval in situations where there is no change in work conditions or work team.

35.5. Personal Protective Equipments, Anchorage Systems and Accessories

35.5.1 Personal Protective Equipments – PPE -, anchorage systems and accessories shall be specified and selected considering their efficiency, comfort, load applied to them and their safety factor, in the event of fall. Additional risks shall be considered in the selection of PPE, in addition to the risks to which the worker is exposed.

35.5.2 PPEs, anchorage systems and accessories for fall protection shall be inspected in the acquisition and periodically, refusing those with defects or deformation. All PPEs, anchorage systems and accessories shall be subject to routine inspection before beginning work. The results of the inspection shall be registered:

a) in the acquisition;

b) periodically and routinely when the PPEs, anchorage systems and accessories are refused. PPEs, anchorage systems and accessories that show defects, degradation, deformation or suffer from drop impact shall be discarded and not used, unless their restoration is provided on national technical standards or, in their absence, international standards.

35.5.3 The safety harness shall be full-body type and endowed with device for connection to the anchoring system. The anchorage system shall be established by the Risk Analysis. The worker shall remain connected to the anchorage system throughout the period of exposure to the risk of falling. The lanyard and fall arrest device shall be fixed above the worker’s waist level, adjusted to restrict the fall height and ensure that the worker’s chance to collide with lower surface is minimized in case of fall. The use of shock-absorber is required in the following situations:

a) fall factor is greater than 1;

b) length of lanyard is greater than 0.9m.

35.5.4 As for the anchorage point, the following steps shall be taken:

a) be selected by legally qualified professional;

b) have strength to withstand the maximum applicable load;

c) be inspected for integrity before use.

35.6. Emergency and Rescue

35.6.1 The employer shall make a response team available in case of emergencies during working at heights. The team can be internal, external or composed of workers themselves who perform the work at heights, depending on the characteristics of the activities.

35.6.2 The employer shall ensure that the team has necessary resources for emergency response.

35.6.3 The response actions to emergencies involving working at heights shall be included in the company emergency plan.

35.6.4 The persons responsible for carrying out the rescue measures shall be trained to perform the rescue, provide first aid and have physical and mental fitness compatible with the activity to be performed.



Shock-absorber: device for reducing the impact transmitted to the worker’s body and safety system during the containment of fall.

Risk Analysis: assessment of potential risks, their causes, consequences and control measures.

Routine activities: daily activities, regardless of the frequency, which are part of the company’s work process.

Safety harness: Personal protective equipment for working at heights where there is a risk of falling, consisting of support at the bottom of the chest, above the shoulders and wrapped on the thighs.

Impeding conditions: situations that prevent the execution or continuity of work, which may put the health or physical integrity of the worker at risk.

Fall factor: ratio between the distance that the worker falls and the length of the equipment that stops him.

External influences: variables that must be considered while defining and selecting protective measures, whose control is not possible to implement in advance.

Work Permit – WP: written document containing set of control measures to perform the work safely, in addition to emergency and rescue measures.

Anchorage point: point to support the load of people for the connection of safety devices such as ropes, steel cables, fall arrest and lanyards.

Legally qualified professional: worker previously qualified and registered to competent professional council.

Additional risks: all other risk groups or factors, in addition to existing risks while working at heights, specific to each environment or activity that directly or indirectly affect safety and health at work.

Anchorage systems: definitive or temporary components, designed to withstand fall impact, to which the worker can connect the Personal Protective Equipment, directly or through another device, so that it remains connected in case of loss of balance, fainting or fall.

Inert suspension: the situation where a worker remains suspended by the safety system until the rescue.

Lanyard: device for connecting to a safety system, adjustable or not, to support, position and/or limit the movement of the worker.

Qualified worker: worker certifying the completion of specific course for the activity in an institution recognized by the official education system.

Fall arrest: safety device to protect the worker against falls during operations with vertical or horizontal movement, when connected with safety harness for fall protection.