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Health and Safety Investigation: Falls from Height

By March 16, 2021April 20th, 2021Health and Safety, Top Tip
Health and Safety Investigation | Falls from Height

This interesting case shows how a seemingly basic task could have ended in fatal consequences due to the employer not correctly risk assessing the work being undertaken and also the workers allowing the unsafe work to continue without raising concerns.

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 unsafe work at height without suitable and sufficient controls in place is not acceptable and HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards.

Inadequate Fall Protection

A roofing contractor has been fined after a health and safety inspector came across two workers jet washing a steeply pitched roof on a house without adequate protection.

Manchester Magistrates’ Court heard that on 5 December 2019, a HSE inspector observed the employees of Improvearoof on the roof of a detached property using two powerful jet washers unsafely: and without any means of fall protection such as scaffolding or harnesses. The inspector issued a prohibition notice, and the work was stopped until suitable measures were put in place.

HSE Investigation

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that poor planning from management led to the failure of the erection of scaffolding prior to the work being carried out.

Improvearoof Stockport pleaded guilty to breaching Regulations 4(1) and 6(3) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005. The company was fined £20,000, ordered to pay costs of £2,981.20 and a victim surcharge of £180.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Phil Redman said: “Although the two workers should have raised concerns immediately with site management regarding the lack of scaffolding, it was the responsibility of the company to manage the job safely. (Source Health & Safety Executive)

Health & Safety Learning Points

  • This task should have been risk assessed and the opportunity for the workers to have the correct PPE – personal protective equipment issued. This should consist of a fall arrest system, harness, hard hats and high visibility jackets.
  • All staff working on this task should have been trained and had either a Safe System of Work (SSOW) or a Risk Assessment Method Statement (RAM) to refer to so that the task was undertaken in the correct controlled manner.
  • Ultimately this could have led to a fatal accident and the company was lucky that it did not.
  • All employers should check the work being undertaken by their employees and inform them as to the correct way to undertake this work with the use of training, supervision, and instruction.
Health & Safety Support

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