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Falls From Height Still Build Up Injury In Construction Sector.

17th December 2013
Between 2011 and 2012, the highest occurrence of workplace fatality was once again in the construction industry (49 deaths), and of the total number of 22, 433 major injuries reported, falls from a height (14 per cent) were the second most common type of accident following slips or trips (40 per cent).

It would also seem that many prosecutions, injury claims and accident compensation result from a lack of proper planning and safety precautions to prevent many of the common accidents from occurring within small firms, and are never far away from the headlines.

A most recent example took place during a residential building conversion on the site of an old hospital building in Mid Wales. A worker who was using a pneumatic drill to break up an unsupported concrete floor on the building’s first storey fell through the floor onto the ground below and was then struck by a part of the concrete floor, causing severe internal injuries.

The subsequent Health & Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that “the structural work had not been properly planned at an early stage” and the building development firm fined a total of £15,000, including costs, for breaching Section 3 (2) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

Before the commencement of any building projects, appropriate risk assessments must be carried out so the work can be properly planned and managed, and tasks constantly monitored for risk prevention. In addition, all workers onsite should be fully trained and well informed of any dangers involved with any aspect of the impending work.

While builders will have sole responsibility for site health and safety when working on private residential building or renovation, site safety responsibilities are usually shared between the builder and a client during business / commercial projects.

Building contractors should only work from height if there is no other way of completing the task, and precautions should be made to prevent accidents when working from height is to take place. This means working platforms must always be correctly secured and ladders firmly locked into position.

Under no circumstances should any attempt be made to work on a fragile roof or flooring without supports having first been put into place or trying to balance or overreach unaided on any kind of (temporary) structure (such as scaffolding).

As part of the Work at Height (Amendment) Regulations 2007, applicable for those who work at height, the HSE state that duty holders must ensure:

All work at height is properly planned and organised
• Those involved in work at height are competent
• The risks from work at height are assessed and appropriate work equipment is selected and used
• The risks from fragile surfaces are properly controlled
• Equipment for work at height is properly inspected and maintained