Each month we will focus on a particular aspect of Health and Safety and give you some useful extracts from legislation, details of prosecutions and some safety tips to help you avoid the courtroom. If you wish to learn more about any of the articles or have some real examples of your own to share, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
This month I want to take a look at the dangers of working at height, legislated under The Work at Height Regulations 2005. Notable sections would be:
- Reg 6 – Avoidance of risks from work at height
- Reg 9 – Fragile surfaces
- Reg 10 – Falling objects
There are three key things to remember before any work at height is undertaken, referred to as a Hierarchy of Risk Control:
- Avoid work at height wherever possible, especially if there are means to carry out the work from ground level
- If work at height is unavoidable, steps should be taken to prevent a person falling
- Where this does not eliminate the risk of falling, measures should be taken to minimise the distance and consequence of any fall should it occur
Case Study 1 – 4 Feb 2020 The failure to properly plan and appropriately supervise work at height has led to a £60,000 fine for a Basingstoke roofing firm. On 21 June 2017, a man fell 6 m onto a concrete floor while was working on the roof at the Lok N Store facility, Basingstoke with two other roofers as part of a 10-week long roof replacement project. The man fell from the open edge of the roof to the concrete floor below and sustained multiple fractures.
Case study 2 – 10 Jan 2020 A roofing company has been convicted of safety breaches after a worker sustained serious back injuries when he fell from a ladder while holding a bucket of broken tiles. On 2 October 2018, AU Roofing and Building workers were working on a roof in Ramsgate, Kent where they were required to carry buckets of materials by hand down the scaffold access ladder. Davey Battams, 31, was unable to maintain a constant three points of contact with the ladder, resulting in the fall. Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigators found the contractor had not provided basic lifting aids, such as a wheel and pulley, which would have eliminated this risk.
Case Study 3 – 29 Oct 2019 Significant gaps in generic risk assessments has led to a building company being fined £65,000 after a carpenter fell from height. Luton Magistrates’ Court was told that on 2 May 2017, a 36-year-old employee was working for MP Building. He climbed up to remove a nail from a brace holding trusses, one of which started to fall causing the employee to fall with it. Raised fall protection decking did not cover the whole area and left significant gaps. The carpenter sustained nerve and tissue damage to his lower back, whiplash to his neck and his little finger was ripped open.
Case Study 4 – 28 Oct 2019 Contractor and roofing company fined more than £225,000 after a worker fell through a fragile roof while building a KFC drive-through. On 21 July 2016, a roof was being installed on the fast-food chain’s new restaurant in Coulby Newham, North Yorkshire. While moving materials, the worker stepped backwards on to a fragile mesh roof that was not load bearing and fell about 3 m, sustaining multiple fractures of his lower left back. HSE investigators found that, in failing to prevent access to the fragile roof area, the roofing contractor had failed to plan and carry out the work at height in a safe manner.