Falls from height continue to be a common cause of injury in the workplace, and can sometimes result in the worker sustaining fatal injuries.
Figures from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) show that falls from a height accounted for just 6% of self-reported non-fatal injuries in 2015/16. However, when it comes to fatal injuries, a fall from height was the cause of 37%.
Eighteen of these fatal falls occurred in the construction sector, seven in the agriculture, forestry and fishing sector and four in manufacturing.
Failure to Manage Risks
In one case recently reported by the HSE, four workers sustained non-fatal injuries after falling more than three and a half metres.
They had been working on a redevelopment of a warehouse, but when they tried to move a ventilation unit into position, the working platform became overloaded and gave way. Two of the four injured men suffered leg fractures, and another a broken collar bone.
A HSE investigation found the company failed to manage the risks when working at height and carrying out the lifting operation. The company also failed to have the right level of trained personnel and supervision in place to carry out these tasks safely and effectively.
The company pleaded guilty to breaching Regulations 6 (3) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and Regulation 4 (1) of the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992. It was fined £450,000 and ordered to pay costs of £1,038.
“The safety failings by this company are severe and it is lucky that the injuries were not more severe,” commented HSE inspector Jack Wilby. “This incident highlights the importance of planning work, in this case both for lifting operations and working from height, to ensure it is carried out safely.”
Two Workers Lose their Lives
In a second incident, a worker sadly lost his life after falling from a ladder. He was working for a bus company in London, and was using a ladder to access the top of a fuel tank when he fell two and a half meters backwards, suffering fatal head injuries.
An investigation by the HSE found the company did not implement or follow its own procedures for managing contractors. As a result they failed to manage their contractors effectively and ensure that they conduct work in a safe manner.
The company was found guilty of breaching section 3 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and was fined £600,000 and ordered to pay costs of £78,531.
In another fatal incident, a self-employed businessman has been prosecuted after his employee fell from the flat roof of a building and died from his injuries.
The employee was working alongside the owner on a flat roof replacement project when he fell from the edge and was pronounced dead at the scene.
A joint investigation carried out by Greater Manchester Police and the HSE found that the work was not properly planned in order to ensure it could be carried out safely. As a result, there were no measures in place, such as scaffold edge protection, to prevent falls from the edges of the roof.
The owner pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was sentenced to nine months imprisonment, suspended for two years and 200 hours of unpaid work.
If you have been injured at work as a result of a fall from height then contact our specialist personal injury lawyers today.