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:
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.
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.
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.