Falls from Height Still the Most Common Cause of Workplace Injuries & Fatalities

19th February 2019
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Nationwide (UK Wide Coverage) UK Wide Coverage

Recent actions by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) show that despite over 13 years since regulations came into effect, many companies are still failing to comply with working at height regulations.

Falls from height are one of the most common causes of workplace fatalities and major injuries in the UK – accounting for 1 in 4 fatal injuries to workings in 2017/18.

Work at Height Regulations came into effect in 2005 and were designed to protect workers against the risks of inadequate protection and equipment. The regulations state that it is the responsibility of the employer to make sure that any work from height is properly planned, supervised and carried out. This responsibility also includes making sure the right type of work equipment is used and that the people completing the activity are ‘competent’.

What makes someone competent to work at height?

Employers should carry out risk assessments and should make sure that those carrying out tasks have the right skills, knowledge and experience. If the worker is being trained, then the employer also needs to make sure that person is supervised by someone competent to do so.

Before working at from a high position, we recommend that you:

  1. Consider alternatives where reasonably practical – for example; can a telescopic pole or drone be used to carry out roof inspection?
  2. Where work at height cannot be avoided, prevent falls using either an existing place of work that is already safe, or the right type of equipment.
  3. If the risk cannot be eliminated, minimise the distance and consequences of a fall by using the right type of equipment, i.e. safety nets, air bags etc.

falling from ladders

Recent Falls from Height Prosecutions

The HSE has recently made 4 falls from height prosecutions. The falls prosecuted were from roof type activity and were the result of poor equipment, planning and lack of control measures.  

Working on any type of roof is a high risk activity – risks include:

  • Falls through fragile roof material
  • Falls from unprotected edges
  • Objects falling or being thrown from roofs

When working on roofs – the following considerations should be made:

  • Make sure there is clear and safe access to and from a roof – a properly secured ladder is a minimum requirement
  • Add edge protection to a work area – i.e. guard rails, toe boards
  • Install a work platform
  • Ensure equipment is in place to mitigate a fall should it occur – i.e. safety nets, soft landing systems

Working at Height Training

We are leaders in health and safety training, and we now have facilities at our training stations throughout the UK to provide high quality height safety courses. Our facilities are approved by the Global Wind Organisation (GWO) and we are experienced in working with companies and individuals involved in the renewable energy sectors.

Our working safely at height course is also approved the ECITB.

Operations Manager of our Scotland training centre, Errol Parrish, says:“We can now offer realistic training, in a safe environment across all of our sites. Our facilities are designed to include training towers, so our clients learn in the most realistic scenarios. Internal and external ladders, hatches, roof top anchor beams, handrails, slopes, gates and a range of internal furnishings help us make each training course bespoke to a learner’s needs and what they may experience in their working lives.”

Choosing the right Height Safety Course

With over 100 years of history, we are proud to provide training that saves lives. Our range of working at height courses always involve practical learning – and are never just classroom based. We feel this is what sets us apart – and helps to make sure that candidates that leave our classes learn skills they can use in their every day working lives.

For those working specifically on rooftops, we have developed a rooftop safety training course which is designed to provide candidates with the knowledge and training they require to work on flat, pitched and fragile surfaces. This course includes fall prevention and use of all relevant PPE for working at height. At the end of the course candidates will be compliant to Working at Height Regulations 2005 and will receive certification which lasts 3 years.

Our working safely at height training course is ECITB approved and combines theory and practical learning. Those who attend will learn how to ascend and descend safely, how to use ladders and stepladders, access and egress routes and the correct use of harnesses and other associated equipment.

We have a wide range of other working at height courses, including GWO approved and rescue from height courses. If you would like to learn more or would like support in choosing the right course for your business or needs – don’t hesitate to contact us by calling 01623 423777.


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