Work at Height - Staying Alive and Saving Lives

Work at Height - Staying Alive and Saving Lives

31st May 2019

During the five-year period 2013 – 2018, a fall from height was the most common cause of most fatal injuries in the workplace here in the UK, with an average of 37 deaths each year.  In fact, in the construction sector, 47% of fatalities and 33% of serious injuries in the workplace resulted from a fall from height.  That’s a third of serious injuries and nearly half of all deaths.  Here in the UK we have some of the most stringent health and safety legislation on the planet, backed up by a rigorous enforcement process that is designed to make Britain one of the safest countries in which to work.  However, the figures quoted serve to demonstrate that, despite a steady decrease in accidents and incidents in the workplace, there is still more to be done to improve safety and reduce the number of injuries.

Whilst individuals like construction managers play a key role in reducing the risks on site through proactive safety planning, it seems that wider regulatory and cultural issues also need to be considered in order to eliminate the number of avoidable accidents and fatalities that result from working at height.  Clients also have a vital role to play in the changes necessary.  

We brought you news of  the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on working at height report published in February, Staying Alive and the UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) will publish its latest 2019-2020 Business Plan this quarter, so we’ll be reviewing that for our readers as soon as it’s released.   Make sure you follow us on Facebook and Twitter so you get a notification when we cover this important issue.

The AAPG report identified both a culture of complacency and, worryingly, that some main contractors may be cost-cutting on safety equipment in order to increase profit margins and undercut competitors, so it’s obvious that there is still work to be done.  

The consistent number of HSE prosecutions that deal with a lack of working at height equipment, however, demonstrate clearly that not all construction leaders and managers are taking their responsibilities as seriously as they should, especially when it comes to planning for work at height and providing the correct type of equipment for each specific task.

Whether or not the findings of the APPG report and the HSE Business Plan will result in stricter legislation when it comes to working at height, all of us in the industry have a part to play when it comes to reducing the number of falls from height and saving lives.