A construction company has been fined £95,604.80 and ordered to pay costs of £998.80 after one of its employees fell around 3.3m to the ground, suffering four fractured vertebrae, a scalp wound and a fractured rib.
The employee had been undertaking a job next to a big opening in a flat roof and was left unable to work for several months following the incident. A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that the company in question hadn’t put any measures in place to stop people from falling through the opening.
Owen Rowley, HSE Inspector, noted how essential it is that people in control of work at height put sufficient measures in place to prevent workers from falling. All that was required was installing edge protection and this incident could have been prevented.
“The risks associated with work at height are well known throughout the construction industry. This business failed to control the risk on site and one of its workers suffered serious injuries as a result,” he went on to observe.
The HSE has guidelines in place that will help you comply with the Work at Height Regulations 2005. Falls from height are in fact one of the biggest causes of fatalities in the workplace, as well as major injuries, with common incidents including falling through fragile roofs and from ladders.
Prior to working at height, you need to consider how to prevent falls either through the right kind of equipment or by using an existing place of work that is already safe. You also need to minimise the distance and consequences of a potential fall by using the appropriate equipment where the risks cannot be eliminated.
Anyone in control of work at height activity must ensure that work is appropriately planned, supervised and carried out by competent and trained members of staff. You need to carry out a risk assessment first and then take a sensible approach, when thinking about the precautions required for this kind of work. You need to consider, for example, the height of the job, the frequency and duration of the work, and the condition of the surface being worked on.
To know whether someone is competent to do the job at hand, make sure your workforce has the right skills, knowledge and experience to perform the work. If they’re still being trained, they need to be supervised by somebody else who is competent to do it.
The most common causes of accidents when undertaking work at height include fragile roof lights, liner panels on built-up sheeted roofs, rotted chipboard, slates and tiles, corroded metal sheets and non-reinforced fibre cement sheets.
In addition, you need to think about the weather conditions as this could easily compromise the safety of your workers. Before each job, check the place and environment where people will be working at height every time before any work commences. And make sure you have good emergency response plans in place, such as agreeing a set procedure for rescue and evacuation. If you need any help with this, give us a call today.