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Working at Height - Time for change?

In 2018/2019 there were 147 fatal injuries to workers reported in Great Britain. 40 of these deaths, a staging 27%, were caused by a fall from height. And what’s arguably even more worrying is that this represents an increase from 24% of fatalities being caused by a fall from height in 2017/2018. It is a major killer of workers in key sectors including construction and agriculture, and the figures show no sign of improvement.

We’ve discussed previously what the definition of Working at Height is, and what you need to be doing, but these latest figures show us it’s time for a re-think.

In January 2018, the APPG (All-Party Parliamentary Group) on Working at Height launched an inquiry to investigate why workers fall from height, leading to death and serious injury, and to come up with a set of recommendations to reduce the overall number of falls. Their recently published report has made the following recommendations:

  1. The introduction of enhanced reporting without an additional burden, through RIDDOR, which at a minimum, records the scale of a fall, the method used and the circumstances of the fall.

  2. The appointment of an independent body that allows confidential, enhanced and digital reporting of all near misses and accidents that do not qualify for RIDDOR reporting. The data collected by this independent body will be shared with government and industry to inform health and safety policy.

  3. The extension of the Working Well Together – Working Well at Height safety campaigns to industries outside of the construction sector.

  4. An equivalent system to Scotland’s Fatal Accident Inquiry process to be extended to the rest of the UK.

Additionally an article published by SHP discusses how stricter Working at Height regulations may be the only way to stop these avoidable deaths. Here you can read how focusing on making sure the basics are being done right may only be achieved through regulatory change. Their suggestions including ensuring organisations take a proactive approach to planning for Working at Height by making the correct equipment a legal requirement, as well as RIDDOR statistics being easily accessible online for businesses in high-risk industries such as construction and agriculture.

Regardless of how and when external bodies instigate the changes that are very much needed, here is a reminder of what you should be doing NOW:

  1. Training – correct training in the use of equipment

  2. Fall Protection Systems – should be in place when employees or contractors carry out work at height

  3. Safe Equipment – ensure that employees are fully trained when it comes to selecting the correct PPE for the job

  4. Inspection, Testing and Compliance – regular maintenance and testing of Work at Height equipment and PPE is essential

Sadly, it all too often takes a near miss for organisational leaders to sit up and take action. Don’t let that be the case for you. Contact us here for help in ensuring that working at height, and the risks that come with it, are a well-managed priority for your business.

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