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Falls from height – the UK’s biggest workplace killer

More worker deaths are caused by falls from height than any other kind of incident in the UK, according to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Newcastle solicitor Browell Smith & Co looks at falls from height and what employers and employees should be doing to prevent and avoid them.

From 2012 to 2017, falls from height accounted for 28 per cent of all worker deaths in the UK – averaging around 40 deaths per year.

Just under a half of these deaths are from the construction sector, with sectors such as agriculture, forestry, fishing and manufacturing comprising the rest.

The most tragic aspect of all of these deaths is that they could almost always be prevented.

A further 43,000 falls take place each year that lead to injury, rather than death.

What should employers be doing?

Employers responsible for at-height working need to ensure work is planned properly, supervised correctly and with attention to detail, and carried out by competent people, who have been given the right training where required.

The right equipment must be supplied – both safety equipment and work tools. Full risk assessments must be carried out and acted upon.

The extensive Work at Height Regulations 2005 can be read here – it is detailed and intimidating, but it is utterly essential for all employers that deal with workers operating at height to become familiar with it.

As an example, this is the section that just applies JUST to working with ladders:

The detail is there for a reason, though – 40 deaths per year is 40 too many, and we must take every measure possible to prevent these.

What should employees be doing?

It’s easy to sneer at health and safety, or to think that the rules don’t apply. Working at height requires skill and patience, both with yourself and with your colleagues.

The greater onus is on the employer to provide a safe working environment, along with all of the correct equipment and training.

However, employees have legal duties to take reasonable care of themselves and their colleagues. This includes reporting any defects in equipment or any activity that may cause a danger to the individuals or others.

What action is taken against those that break the guidelines?

The HSE does fine companies that have been found to break the rules around working at height.

A quick browse of this link shows those articles about those companies that have been fined recently – in 2018, there have been fines for a solar panel installation company in Reading, a farming company in greater Manchester, and a scaffolding company in Sheffield.

What if you have suffered an injury by falling from height at work?

At Browell Smith & Co we have many years’ experience at helping people who have been injured whilst at work, whether these are accidents involving moving vehicles, moving machinery, trips, lifting accidents or, most commonly, falls from height.

If you have fallen from height and injured yourself and believe the proper safety procedures were not in place, then you may be able to take legal action for compensation.

If you have suffered an accident at work of any find, including a fall from height, we may be able to help you – find out more about our expertise in cases involving accidents at work here.

Contact our expert team today to arrange a no-obligation chat at any of our offices, in Newcastle, Cramlington, Ashington and Sunderland, or alternatively by 0800 107 3000, to discuss your particular requirements.

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