Staying Alive and Preventing Falls from Height

Staying Alive and Preventing Falls from Height

13th March 2019

The government’s All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Working at Height recently released a new report calling on the construction industry and the government to carry out a major review of the work at height culture here in the UK.  The report is titled “Staying Alive: Preventing Serious Injury and Fatalities while Working at Height” is the outcome of a year long inquiry by the APPG in a bid to discover why a fall from height results in the deaths of 18% of employees who are killed in the workplace and what can be done to decrease this figure. 

The APPG has spent the past year investigating falls from height and their causes in order to understand the effect they have on the lives of workers and respond with recommendations that will reduce the number of such falls in the future. 

According to the APPG, the response from the industry and the public highlighted the significance of this issue and given a voice to individuals who have been victims of a fall and use their insights to secure an improvement across all sectors in which work at height is carried out.

The report has studied what is working well, with the use of cutting-edge technology and a focus on best practice helping to ensure that improvements are made and that employees are able to work at height in a safe manner. 

However, despite this progress, there is still room for improvement, especially as a result of the continuous evolution of digital technology that will make work at height safer.   The increasing adoption of innovative new methods and technology will combine to reduce the need to work at height in future.  Drones are being used to carry out inspections, virtual reality is being used to deliver immersive training in work at height and modular construction methods are also reducing the requirements for work at height.

The Working at Height Report is available as a free download and it contains four fundamental recommendations which are designed to reduce the overall number of falls.  These are as follows:

  1. The introduction, through RIDDOR, of an enhanced and robust reporting system which (at a minimum) records the scale of a fall, the method used and the circumstances of a fall.
  2. The appointment of an independent body which enables confidential, enhanced and digital reporting of all near misses and accidents that don’t qualify for RIDDOR reporting.  The data gathered by this independent body will be shared with government and industry to inform health and safety policy.
  3. At extension of the Working Well Together – Working Well at Height safety campaigns to other sectors outside the construction industry.
  4. A system that is equivalent to Scotland’s Fatal Accident Enquiry process that can be used throughout the rest of the UK.