Other 307 views Sep 26, 2017
Let’s hope the accident rate for falls from height continues its decline

There are over 13,000 injuries a year from fall from heights accidents on construction sites, some 30 of these are fatal, according to the latest statistics available from the Government. It is the second largest killer after “struck by moving vehicle,” but the good news is that such accidents seem to be steadily declining.

Credit for this must go to the increased use of fall arrest systems and a growing duty of care awareness on employers to ensure that the proper precautions are observed and the right safety equipment supplied to employees working at height.

Working at height means work in any place where, if precautions were not taken, a person could fall a distance liable to cause personal injury. This could be while using ladders or in situations where there is a fragile deck, open spaces and other similar risks.

Personal fall arrest systems are now common on construction sites for workers who are exposed to vertical drops of six feet or more. Variations of these include direct attachment to the building, usually a roof, body harnesses, vertical lifelines or netting around the building – or even a combination of these.

The Health and Safety Executive has published a useful guide to help employers which can be downloaded by visiting http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg401.pdfThis brief guide describes what you, as an employer, need to do to protect your workers from falls from height.

So far, so good, but there are still many anecdotal stories of workers ignoring safety harnesses and equally as bad is the state of some of the safety equipment which according to some experts is not maintained in the correct way. It is a legal requirement for all safety equipment, including fall protection systems, to be routinely tested by a suitably qualified person.

In a report on their website http://www.bsgltd.co.uk/  the Building Safety Group say they made more than 20,000 site inspections during 2016 and height safety failure was by far the most commonly identified breach.

A total of 24,634 non-compliances, say the BSG, were logged by safety advisors throughout 2016. Working at height accounted for 19% of all breaches recorded. The second highest significant non-compliance was dust/fumes, which accounted for 5%.

As stated at the beginning of this blog such accidents still continue to decline slowly with some expert’s predicting that they will plateau soon. At the risk of stating the obvious – every accident is a tragedy, but falling from heights is so avoidable with the right precautions that it should be preventable. Let’s hope the decline rate continues.

By John Ridgeway

Follow me on Twitter  @JohnRidgeway99