Whenever you or your employees are working at heights, you should all have been properly trained to do the work you are about to undertake. Accidents can and do happen regardless of how well trained you are however, having the correct training can and does prevent accidents and will help prepare people for working at heights. There is also training on what to do in the event of a variety of problems whilst working at heights and this too can both prevent an accident and get you out of trouble. As an employer, it is your duty to ensure that your staff are properly trained as stated in the HSE regulations. Regular refreshers are a good idea particularly if there have been any changes in the regulations or if your employees are going to use new equipment.
It may, therefore, be tempting for workers to want to get stuck into a job as quickly as possible on those rare sunny days, but under such circumstances, it is essential that health and safety isn’t relegated to second place in the race to get the job done - particularly when it comes to working at height.
Flexibility not folly
In fact, it is of perhaps even greater importance that health and safety best practise is followed to the letter when working conditions are likely to be wet and, therefore, slippery.
Working at height will never be without risk, but it poses a particular danger in wet and windy weather conditions and the most stringent safety precautions will be necessary. As long as jobs are properly planned and managed, however, with the right combination of equipment and training, the risk of an accident can be significantly reduced.
According to independent regulator the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), falls from height still account for 16 percent of the 24,000 major workplace accidents that happened last year. In total, there were around 6,000 injuries resulting from working at height accidents that caused the injured person to be off work for a minimum of three days - so the implications are huge, not only for the wellbeing of your workforce, but to its productivity too.
The disastrous consequences of not ensuring adequate health and safety measures became all too clear recently for a demolition company, fined £20,000 for neglecting to follow legislation. For the employee affected, however, the consequences were even more damaging.
The company was fined in relation to an incident that occurred when a 67-year-old employee was left completely paralysed after falling from a roof. The employee was working on the demolition of a pub and was removing the slates and timbers from the pitched roof by hand.
Although a mobile access platform had been provided to give the worker access to the roof, and to act as a barrier to prevent falls from the roof edge, the platform did not cover the whole length of the roof.
The man fell 18-20 feet - equivalent to the height of a two-storey building - causing serious injuries including fractures to three vertebrae, his right elbow and both bones of his lower right leg. He also suffered a dislocated right hip and the collapse of his right lung.
Cases like this provide a horrifying illustration of the devastating consequences that can result from failing to take all the necessary precautions when preparing for and working at height. Click here to continue