3 Crucial Working at height Project Incidents and Important Lessons to Learn
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in 2018 reported some work at height incidents that took place in different parts of the country. The report explains what could’ve gone wrong and the consequences suffered by the companies. There are valuable safety lessons that we can learn and implement in our respective organisations from these examples for an enhanced safe working environment.
Let’s get started!
1. Employees Exposed to Fall from Height Risk: Company Fined £10,000
A case was brought to the Reading Crown Court involving a solar panel installation company and its sole director who continually failed to abide by the safety regulations even after being warned more than once by the HSE, hence exposing his employees to significant fall from height risks.
During an inspection, an HSE investigator found two employees working on a roof without any fall protection, to which the organisation was served a prohibition notice. The inspector returned three days later, only to find that the director has allowed work to continue without the provision of adequate equipment and safe working conditions.
The company pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 6 (3) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and Sections 2(1) and 33(1) (g) of the Health and Safety at Work, etc. Act 1974. It was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay additional costs of £6,300. The director was also fined £500 after pleading guilty to breaching two counts of Section 37 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work, etc. Act 1974.
Contractors should always strive to meet standards of safety and understand that they have a duty of care to their employees. No employee should be allowed to work at height without adequate fall protection, such as a fall protection post and safety harness.
2. Employee Falls from a Ladder and Sustains Significant Injuries: Fine Charged £10,000
In January 2016, the Greater Manchester Magistrates’ Court heard the case of an incident that involved an employee who suffered injuries while working at height. The victim was cleaning the gutters on a farm building when his ladder slipped down the face of the property.
The injuries sustained were:
● A broken shoulder
● A broken arm
● A fractured elbow
The employer pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 4 of the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases, and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR), and Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work, etc. Act 1974. The court fined the farming company £10,000 and ordered it to pay costs of £5,827.
The company had not placed adequate work at height control measures and failed to report the incident within the required timeframe.
As an employer, you should ensure there’s enough training, communication, and supervision for any work at height project. This will serve to prevent such incidents from occurring and ensure that any incidents are reported as soon as possible.
3. Apprentice Falls and Sustains Injuries: Fine Charged £100,000
In September 2016, a 16-year old apprentice joiner working for a scaffolding company sustained devastating injuries after falling off a scaffolding platform about four metres. The case was presented in front of Sheffield Magistrate’s Court. The victim was passing roof tiles from the loading bay to a colleague when his foot got stuck in a gap, resulting in the injuries.
The injuries included:
● A broken wrist
● A fractured cheekbone
● A deep cut above the left eye, which required 13 stitches
● Bruised ribs
The company pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 8 (a) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and was fined £100,000 and additional costs of £918. The HSE concluded that there was no intermediate toe board or guardrail in the loading bay edge protection.
Safeguards are an essential safety consideration for most work at height fall hazards and must be installed to prevent such incidents.