Falls From Height - A Long Way to Go

Falls From Height - A Long Way to Go

23rd June 2015

Although the Working at Heights Regulations were introduced more than ten years ago, falls from height continue to be the leading cause of fatalities in the workplace. Statistics show that during the past decade there’s been an encouraging decrease in injuries and this is a positive sign within the construction industry. However, slips, trips and falls from height (STFs) are still the cause of most major injuries and falls from height is the leading cause of deaths.

Figures released by the UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) reveal that there’s been a steady 33% decrease in the number of major/specified injuries since 2008/2009 with STFs dropping by 25% during this period.

According to the 2013/2014 Labour Force Survey conducted by the Office for National Statistics 1.5 million work days were lost due to STFs, 12% of which were falls. During that same period 99 offences in 77 cases that fell under WAHR 2005 were heard in British courts, 88 of which resulted in convictions with an average fine of £8,663 per offence. The survey also revealed that self employed people account for almost half of the fatal falls from height despite the fact that the self employed account for only 3% of the total STF injuries reported. This highlights the fact that self employed workers may not be taking all possible precautions when working at height.

The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM) came into force in April of this ear and we’ve yet to see whether this will have any significant impact on the number of injuries. Section 12(2) of the CDM states that all projects will be required to have fully documented construction phase plan. These details will hopefully alert both workers and businesses on the importance of ensuring that proper precautions are in place when planning for work at height.

Businesses and employers will need to make sure that they are always up to date with current legislation so that they can ensure compliance at all times. As is always the case when new guidelines are issued, one of the most challenging parts is interpreting them correctly and ensuring that they trickle down to workers. This means that employers need to focus on ensuring that health and safety at work procedures are communicated effectively in order to reduce the risk of accidents in the workplace. Businesses and employers will need to make sure that they know the guidelines thoroughly and carry out regular risk assessments and audits on all their procedures if we’re to see a decrease in falls from height in the future.

Here at Safety Fabrications we take health and safety in the workplace seriously and we’ll keep an eye on what’s happening within the construction industry so that we can keep all of our readers up to date with any insights and current trends.