Working at Height: The Risks and Challenges

Working at Height The Risks and Challenges

Working at Height The Risks and Challenges

Working at height is defined as working in a place where a person could fall a distance liable to cause personal injury. A fall from a height can result in serious and life-changing injuries, anything from broken bones and mental trauma to irreversible damage to your internal organs.

 

Tragically, statistics from the Health and Safety Executive show that falls from a height accounted for the largest number of fatal accidents in the workplace in 2019/20.

 

Whilst these accidents are most commonly seen in the construction industry and cleaning industry, in any job where you are required to work from a height, however high or low that may be, you need to know the risks you face and the steps you can take to avoid them. We will examine these steps in this blog, and we’ve also included a handy guide to some of our key Do’s and Don’ts of working at height.

 

The Dangers of Working at Height, and How to Avoid Them:

  • Roofs

There are three types of roofs that present a particular risk when working at height; fragile roofs which aren’t structurally sound enough to support you or your equipment, sloping roofs which can present a serious challenge with maintaining stability, and flat roofs which present a risk due to their unsecured edges. To overcome the challenges of these roofs, we recommend using the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and utilising both roof ladders and crawling boards where necessary.

  • Unsecured Edges

When working at height, unsecured edges present a significant danger not only to you, but to the people below who could be injured from the risk of falling objects. Ensure that before any work commences that walkways, access platforms and scaffolding all have the appropriate measures in place. Guard rails are often the most common choice to prevent this type of risk.

  • Weather Conditions

Bad weather can pose a serious danger to those working at height, especially strong winds which can make access more dangerous and could cause any unfastened materials, as well as your equipment, to come loose. Heavy rain or icy weather greatly increases the chance of you slipping as it impacts your stability. Although shelters can be formed and PPE can protect you from the elements to an extent, in poor weather we would always recommend postponing any work at height.

 

The Do’s and Don’ts of Working at Height:

  • Do check that everyone you are working with is fully trained and competent for working at height.
  • Do consider emergency situations and make sure access is safe to the workplace at height.
  • Do ensure that equipment is stable and strong enough for the job. Be sure to check this regularly.
  • Do take extra precautions when working on or near fragile services.
  • Do provide protection from falling objects.
  • Don’t overload ladders.
  • Don’t overreach on ladders or stepladders.
  • Don’t rest a ladder against weak upper surfaces.
  • Don’t use ladders for heavy tasks, only use them for light work and for a short period of time, usually for no longer than 30 minutes.
  • Don’t let anyone untrained or inexperienced carry out any work at height.

 

The Work at Height Regulations (2005) was introduced to help prevent injury or death caused by falls from a height. These regulations aim to minimise the potential risk to workers, and they place a duty of care on employers to ensure that they do everything possible to prevent employees from falling whilst a work, or carrying out risk assessments, and ensuring their workers are supplied with the appropriate equipment and training.

 

If your employer fails to take any of these precautions and you suffer an injury as a result, you may be able to pursue a claim for compensation.

 

If you have been injured in an accident that wasn’t your fault and you would like more information, please feel free to get in touch with one of our No Win No Fee solicitors.

 

health and safety

FFI? Health & Safety wheeze about to hit the buffers?

FFIas acronyms go it’s an ‘open goal’...if you’re looking for a cheap larf that is.

As ideas go, FFI is more of an ‘own goal’ but it ain’t no laughing matter because this particular Government wheeze, introduced last October, is helping to undermine 170 years of progress in workplace safety.

The evidence is that the scheme is spectacularly failing to deliver on its key objective which is: to make companies pay for Health & Safety Executive visits where breaches of health and safety regulations have occurred.

Read more

work injury

We are not amused…Queen’s Speech undermines UK worker safety and rights to fair compensation

We have come to expect the coalition government to be hell bent on a crusade to reduce worker safety, fuelled by a spurious political dogma that a reduction in the regulatory burden will unleash the entrepreneurial spirit of British industry, thus solving all our economic woes at a stroke – and the Queen’s Speech on 8th May didn’t disappoint…

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The Dave-Vince Code: an alchemist’s cookbook for workplace injury and social injustice.

The Dave-Vince Code: an alchemist's cookbook for workplace injury and social injustice.

Image: Zimbio

‘Occult futurists’, Prime Minister David Cameron (Dave) and Business Secretary Vince Cable (Vince), have together developed a secret plan ‘The Dave-Vince Code’ which is designed to dismantle health and safety legislation in the UK on the spurious grounds that less regulation will free up business to create jobs and grow the economy.

We believe that this Code is an invidious and systematic assault on the right of workers and the general public to expect the highest possible standards of protection from hazards and threats to health and the right to fair compensation if accidents occur. 

We shall lay bare some of the key tenets of the Code as illustrated by the pronoucements of Dave and Vince and demonstrate the flawed thinking and (sometimes) blatant subterfuge employed to bolster party political dogma and the vested interest of the insurance companies.   

 

Dave – 1st Dec 2009, interview in The Telegraph: 

“I want to exempt entire categories of workers and organisations from the fear of litigation or prosecution because of ‘over-the-top’ health and safety rules.”
 
“A Conservative government would amend the Compensation Act to abolish negligence claims for activities where it should be obvious there is a risk-for example, sport and adventure training.”

It is only some organisation’s fear of litigation that keeps many workers safeand we know how often THAT works.

Thus the early clues to the Code were embedded back in 2009. What the then future PM was saying loud and clear was that he would abolish negligence claims for dangerous activities.So, the activities known to be dangerous will remain dangerous,and if you participate in any of them and get injured – tough luck. Tell that to Sarah (see video testimonial: http://www.bonnarandco.com ) 

 

Dave – 10th July 2010, commenting on Lord Young’s report, ‘Common Sense – Common Safety’:

“It is is clear from Lord Young’s work that there was ‘too much intrusion’ into everyday life from health and safety bureaucracy.”
 
“He has done a brilliant job helped by members of the public who have been sending in examples, including a schoolteacher who sent in a ten-page form that has to be filled out when you do any sort of school trip.”

The only thing that is clear is that the PM has swallowed the potion concocted by the insurance industry and tabloid press that has made him immune to rational thinking on health and safety matters and oblivious to the concerns of the public.

 

Dave – 5th Jan 2012 in repsonse to the Lofstedt report, ‘Reclaiming Health & safety For All’:

“Health and safety can too often sound farcial or marginal..so there is something else we are doing: waging war against the excessive health and safety culture that has become an albatross around the neck of British businesses.”

“So one of the Coalition’s New Year resolutions is this: kill off the health and safety culture for good. I want 2012 to go down in history not just as Olympics year or Diamond Jubilee year, but the year we banished a lot of this pointless time-wasting from the economy and British life once and for all.”

‘Farcical and marginal’ – ironic or what? Now it’s all out war on the nation’s health and safety infrastructure. An invidious mantra indeed for a nation’s leader…made more invidious by his hi-jacking of Professor Lofstedt’s report and crass manipulation of it’s findings – see below.   

 

Dave – 14th Feb 2012 insurance industry summit, 10 Downing Street:

“I am determined to tackle this damaging compensation culture which has been pushing up premiums. I want to stop trivial claims, free up businesses from the stranglehold of health and safety red tape and look at ways we can bring costs down.”

“The insurance industry plays such an important part in all our lives – it is there to help when we are at our most vulnerable and at greatest need. But I want to ensure that we all do what we can to help people through this difficult time.”

The PM’s psychophantic eulogising of the insurance industry illustrated his total conversion to the ‘dark side’ of the health and safety debate and his refusal to meet with the Unions or APIL, the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers, confirmed his intention to ignore the legitimate concerns of millions of ordinary people.

Note to PM and ABI – injured people and their families are voters too and they pay insurance premiums.

 Vince – Federation of Small Business Conference, 23 March 2012:

“…But there is another issue that blights your working lives and stands in your way as you strive to grow your business – and that’s the burden of red tape and regulation. So I would like to say a little about that before I close.”

The one true blight of working lives in this country right now is not the ‘red tape’ restricting growth but the coalition’s determination to roll back 175 years of progress and take working conditions back to Victorian Britain. 

Even the entrepreneurial Americans don’t buy the argument that health and safety regulations damage jobs ( http://news.bonnarandco.com/us-health-and-safety-laws-are-good-for-busine). So just what book of alchemist spells are Dave and Vince reading?

Vince – 10th September 2012, announcing ‘bonfire’ of health & safety regulations in parliament:

“Businesses need to focus on creating jobs and growth rather than “being tied up in unnecessary red tape. I’ve listened to those concerns and we’re determined to put common sense back into areas like health and safety, which will reduce costs and fear of burdensome inspections.”

“From April 2013, only companies operating in high risk areas such as construction or with a track record of poor performance will face regular visits from safety inspectors.

By ensuring regulation becomes a last resort, we will create an environment that frees business from the burden of red tape,helping to create the right conditions for recovery and growth in the UK economy

Despite the evidence of decades and a litany of public and private tragedies – Aberfan, Flixborough, Piper Alpha – plus countless unpublicised avoidable accidents, are we to simply believe that cutting back on health and safety regulation will make our economy stronger and our living and working environments safer?

We’d sooner believe that Dave and Vince can create gold from base metal. 

FOOTNOTE TO THE SNEAKY AND THE SCURRILOUS:

How this government is blatantly ignoring its own commissioned research and is actively engaged on a process of regulatory vandalism which WILL result in loss of life, serious injury and long-term health problems for this nation’s workforce.

If anyone is unfortunate enough to get injured at work or to contract an occupational illness they can look forward to a very difficult AND GROSSLY ONE-SIDED fight for justice and fair compensation.

THIS IS AN OUTRAGE AND A SCANDAL, PERPRETATED BY A GOVERNMENT THAT HAS TOTALLY BOUGHT INTO THE DECEITFUL AND VINDICTIVE APPROACH OF THE INSURANCE INDUSTRY IN ITS EFFORTS TO CUT ITS COSTS AND BOOST ITS PROFITS.

IS IT REALLY TOO MUCH TO EXPECT BETTER FROM A GOVERNMENT?

HERE’S THE TRUTH …  

In October 2012 the government announced an amendment to the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill. The new Business minister, Matthew Hancock, told MPs this was based on Professor Löfstedt’s recommendations and would remove the concept of “strict liability” – whereby companies are liable for injuries regardless of negligence if certain health and safety rules are breached.

“The fear of being sued drives businesses to exceed what is required by the criminal law, diverting them from focusing on sensible preventive health and safety management and resulting in unnecessary costs and burdens,” he said.

However, the Löfstedt review did not call for the blanket removal of strict liability. Instead it called for a review of where strict liability was necessary. “These proposals were sneaked into the Bill at the last possible moment after the legislation had been through committee.”
 

What Professor Ragnar Lofstedt really thinks about the removal of strict liability.

‘Reclaiming health & safety for all: a review of progress one year on.’
January 2013

Page 11, paragraph 30:

An amendment to the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill 2012-13 is being used by the Government to deliver the recommendation on strict liability. The amendment has proved to be highly controversial and has provoked much debate, including amongst the members of my Advisory Panel.

I have also been lobbied by many interested stakeholders including personal injury law firms and trades unions.
 
My understanding is that the proposed amendment to the Health and Safety at Work Act reverses the current position on civil liability. This means that, unless exceptions apply, claims for compensation in relation to breaches of health and safety legislation will need to prove that the employer has been negligent.

The approach being taken is more far-reaching than I anticipated in my recommendation and, if this amendment becomes law I hope that the Government will carefully monitor the impact to ensure that there are no unforeseen consequences.

What Professor Lofstedt really said about the EU and health & safety legislation in his original report.

Page 4, paragraph 9

Many of the requirements that originate from the EU would probably exist anyway, and many are contributing to improved health and safety outcomes. There is evidence, however, that a minority impose unnecessary costs on business without obvious benefits. 

 

What Professor Lofstedt really said about health and safety regulations in his original report:

Page 7, para graph 2:

The general sweep of requirements set out in health and safety regulation are broadly fit for purpose.

..and in repsonse to government spin:

“I have neither seen nor heard any evidence to suggest that there is a case for radically altering or stripping back current health and safety regulation.” In general the regulations are “fit for purpose.”

What Professor Lofstedt really said about Health & Safety Executive inspections in his original report:

Page 79, paragraph 2.

The evidence suggests that businesses can benefit from and value inspections, with SMEs welcoming the constructive, reasonable advice and guidance that it can provide to help them improve health and safety in the workplace 200. Nearly nine out of ten employers who have had contact with HSE see it as a ‘helpful’ organisation.

 

What Lord Young really said about the ‘compensation culture in ‘Common Sense – Common Safety.’

Page 19:

Britain’s ‘compensation culture’ is fuelled by media stories about individuals receiving large compensation payouts for personal injury claims and by constant adverts in the media offering people non-refundable inducements and the promise of a handsome settlement if they claim.

It places an unnecessary strain on businesses of all sizes, who fear litigation and are subjected to increasingly expensive insurance premiums.

The problem of the compensation culture prevalent in society today is, however, one of perception rather than reality.

Written by Andy Thorogood, Business Development Manager, Bonnar Accident Law.

“It’s Enlightened Despotism Jim, but not as we know it…”


"It's Enlightened Despotism Jim, but not as we know it..."

BBC images

In a ground breaking speech to the CBI today the Prime Minister told the nation that he knows what’s best for us. He said there are a lot of clever people in Whitehall who think like he does on lots of issues and they make and/or repeal laws and regulations according to his strategic vision…

…on the matter of equalities issues.

“We have smart people in Whitehall who consider equalities issues while they’re making the policy. We don’t need all this extra tick-box stuff. So I can tell you today we are calling time on equality impact assessments. You no longer have to do them if these issues have been properly considered.That way policy-makers are free to use their judgment and do the right thing to meet the equalities duty rather than wasting their own time and taxpayers’ money”.

…on the matter of judicial reviews.

“The government will make it harder for groups and individuals to challenge government decisions using judicial review. The time limit for bringing a case would be reduced, the cost would go up and the opportunities for appeal would be reduced, he said. Full details will be outlined in a Ministry of Justice consultation published soon. Although some judicial review cases were valuable, “so many are completely pointless”, Cameron said.

…on the matter of enlightened despotism.

“Ministers will be allowed to introduce policy without consultation. When the government came to power, all decisions were subject to a three-month consultation, he said. He said the government had already decided to allow ministers to hold shorter consultations, lasting as little as two weeks. “And we are going further, saying: if there is no need for a consultation, then don’t have one,” he said.

We have been ‘softened up’ for two years now as the Government propaganda machine has gone into overdrive to dismantle our health and safety regulations in the name of enterprise and in the face of distinguished dissenting voices whose reports DID NOT produce the expected findings on the existence of a compensation culture.

NOW THE GOVERNMENT HAS DECIDED IT ISN’T EVEN GOING TO BOTHER WITH POLICY CONSULTATION AND REVIEW…

A populist bonfire of so-called red tape and ‘unnecessary regulations’ is being used to restrict access to justice and is creating a smokescreen for the government to drive through a whole raft of worrying legislation the most recent of which being the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill – a benign sounding title for a Trojan Horse of Iniquity.    

It seems that as we are running out of time to do what the PM wants, we are just going to have to let him get on with it.

Don’t worry though…it’ll be all right on the night, won’t it?