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Work At Height

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There have been a number of recent prosecutions by the Health and Safety Executive for companies allowing employees to work at height when it has not been safe to do so.  In some instances employees have fallen from the working area causing injuries which, as can be appreciated, have been significant and serious.

The prosecutions include:

  1. A roofing firm and its Managing Director for allowing workers onto a domestic roof to use a jet washer without safety measures being in place.  Evidence was produced showing an employee standing half way down a sloping roof using the jet washer to clear moss and other debris.  The Health and Safety Executive immediately issued a Prohibition Notice until scaffolding or other safety improvements had been implemented.  In the same prosecution it was established that the company did not have Employers Liability Insurance for which they were also convicted.
  2. Two construction companies in Aberdeen were sentenced for serious safety failings after a worker was left with life changing injuries after he fell almost four metres through a hole during construction work at a hotel.  At the time a major refurbishment project was underway.  The employee was replacing a floorboard over a hole which had been used to hoist materials but unfortunately the board and he fell through.  Nobody actually heard him call for help and he had to crawl back up a floor before colleagues found him.  The worker suffered significant injuries.  Only weeks beforehand the Health and Safety Executive had served an Improvement Notice on the principal contractor at the same site for failings in how work at height was being carried out.
  3. A Tyneside house builder has been fined after a worker was seriously injured in a fall when a temporary handrail gave way when leant on.  The agency worker suffered significant injuries which would require further surgery and they were unable to work as a labourer for six months.  They are unlikely to ever return to their normal trade as a plasterer. 
  4. A West Midlands roofing firm has been convicted after a passing Safety Official spotted an employee working at height without any fall protection.  The HSE Inspector happened to be in the area when he spotted two workers on a fragile roof of a business unit.  The company had prepared a Risk Assessment and Method Statement indicating that guard rails and netting would be used but they were not and other safety actions which could have been taken were overlooked. 

The injuries from falls of this nature are very often serious and life changing.  In a separate case an employee suffered a compound fracture to his leg and three fractured vertebra to his lower spine, following which he was off work for several months.

It follows that it is extremely important to prepare for any work at height wherever it takes place even if it is on a company’s own premises.  Even factors such as the weather should be taken into account and all appropriate alternatives considered before commencement. 

If you have suffered a fall from height and sustained injury and loss then please contact David Eade on 01302 308673 or by email at davideade@hlwkeeblehawson.co.uk

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