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Taking An Avoidable Risk Throws Worker Five Metres To the Ground

Scaffolding around building
17th December 2013

More than 7,000 injuries were caused by falling from height in the period 2008 – 2009, according to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). The figure is just over 50 per cent more than all the major injuries reported and likely to be strongly reflected in accident claims or injury claims over the same period.

RIDDOR (Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations) state that between 2011 and 2012, falling from height was one of four types of fatal injuries affecting two thirds of workers, the other three being trapped by a collapsing structure or struck by a moving object or vehicle.

The consistently high number of falling from height accidents, which are reported almost on a daily basis, is of deepening concern in today’s workplace where the strict requirements of risk assessment and the consequential financial penalties imposed in court are well known.

Is the message not getting through or is it simply a case of taking a calculated risk to ‘save time and bother’ by employers or their staff?

A recent example of a glaring failure to recognise the potential risk of an action occurred when a worker fell from a wooden potato crate, which had been tied to a forklift truck as a makeshift platform.

The 39 year old employee from a Leicester door fitting firm was attempting to install a motor for a roller shutter door on the wall of a building when the crate suddenly tipped up and he was thrown five metres to the floor. As a result, a wrist, heel, ankle and elbow were broken, and following an operation, a period of three months off work to fully recover.

Described as a “high risk” and “fully foreseeable” accident injury because of the wrong equipment being used to carry out a job, the company was found to be in breach of Regulation 8(b) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and fined a total of £ 2,870 including costs.

HSE estimate that between 2011 and 2012, around 400,000 working days were lost as a result of self-reported non-fatal injury. It seems avoidable risks leading to serious injury will continue to take place despite prosecutions and the call for proper risk assessments to be carried out every time.