One of the UK’s leading glass manufacturers has been fined £80,000 this week when one of its workforce sustained a broken back when working at height. The worker stepped from a load bearing platform onto a fragile roof and fell almost 3 metres to the floor below. The fall caused the worker to suffer with lower back fractures as well as sustained fractures to his right heel, shoulder and elbow, forcing him into early retirement.
Working at height regulations
Following the incident, the Health and Safety Executives (HSE) found that the company did not provide a safe system of work for working at height, and that their controls and measures were not compliant.
The UK manufacturer pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 which led to a fine of £80,000 and ordered to pay costs of £767.
HSE Inspector Joseph Wright said: “This incident could so easily have been avoided if appropriate control measures and a safe system of work had been in place.
“Falls from height remain one of the most common causes of work-related fatalities in this country and the risks associated with working at height are well known.
“Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standard.” (cite)
Safety First Group safety tips
Work at height is any work that, if no control measures or precautions were in place, would put people at risk of falling any distance that could cause injury or death.
This could be:
- Working on a ladder or flat roof
- A fall through a fragile surface (eg glass)
- A fall into an opening or a hole in the ground
Adhering to the Work at Height Regulations are essential in preventing death and injury caused by a fall from height. These regulations apply to employers as well as anyone who instructs/contracts others to work at height. All work performed at height should be regularly assessed by competent and trained people to prevent accidents and injuries to your workforce.
Assessing the potential dangers when working at height is crucial in order to prevent potentially fatal accidents and also potential fines for your business.
Working at height do’s and don’ts
- Do as much work from the ground as reasonably possible
- Make sure that you take precautions when working at height
- Ensure that workers can get up and down safely
- Provide protection from falling objects – hard hats are a must!
- Don’t overload or overreach
- Don’t use equipment that could increase your risk of falls
- Don’t block exits with debris
- Don’t commence work unless you know it is safe to do so.