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Your guide to working at height

Man climbing up scaffolding

A fall when working at height is still one of the main causes of major injuries and fatality in the workplace. Every year, falls from height cause 29% of fatal injuries, around 80 major injuries and over 230 absences over 3 days long. The most common falls from height are:

  • From a ladder
  • From vehicles
  • From machinery, plant or scaffolding
  • Through a fragile roof

In many cases accidents are entirely preventable if the work to be carried out is:

  • Properly assessed, planned and supervised
  • Employees are provided with full training
  • Employees are adequately protected

Employers’ responsibilities

Under the Work at Height Regulations 2005, employers have a legal duty of care to ensure that:

  • Where employees cannot avoid working at height – work equipment or other measures should be used to prevent falls.
  • Where the risk of a fall cannot be entirely eliminated – employees should use work equipment or other measures to minimise the distance and consequences if a fall does take place.

Under the Work at Height (Amendment) Regulations 2007, wherever you are required to work at height, your employer, manager, project supervisor, foreman or any person who controls the work of others 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

The Regulations set out clear requirements for:

  • Means of access for working at height – including, ladders, scaffold towers, cherry-pickers, mobile platforms and cranes
  • General fall prevention - including guardrails and working platforms
  • General fall arrest - nets, airbags
  • Personal fall protection and arrest

An employer is considered to have breached the “duty of care” owed to you as an employee if they failed to do everything that was “reasonably practicable” to keep you safe from harm.

If your normal work does not involve working at height but a task may require you to do so, your employer should assess the risks and think about how the task can safely be carried out.  If you suffer a fall when working at height, your employer must provide evidence to show that suitable and sufficient measures had been taken to prevent this.

The outcome from a fall from height is often fatal but you can also be left with devastating injuries and a lifelong disability.

Your Legal Friend has an in-depth knowledge of workplace law and injury compensation and over 30 years of experience in successfully managing workplace compensation claims. We can provide you with all the expert guidance you will need to help you make your case and secure the best possible settlement. 

Falls from Height  -  the most common cause of fatality in the workplace 

  • Nearly three in ten (29 per cent) of fatal injuries suffered by workers were falls from height.          (Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations – RIDDOR, 2013/14)

Typical causes of working at height accidents

  • Using a stepladder

- When not appropriate for the task

- In an unsafe manner (you need to maintain three points of contact at the working position) 

- Not ensuring that the ladder is properly footed (secured on the ground and capable of carrying the maximum intended load without settling or displacement)

- Placed at a too steep or too shallow angle

- Unsafe for the purpose – rungs/safety locking are broken or missing

  • Using a tower scaffold  

- That has not been erected properly

  • Failing to fit toe boards, edge protection,  and guardrails along the edge of platforms when a scaffold is erected

The most serious or fatal injuries frequently involve falling

  • From temporary walkways
  • Through skylights
  • Through hidden or unguarded cracks, gaps or holes in a roof
  • From scaffolding, ladders or a moving platform
  • Over roof edges
  • From machinery

Fragile roofs and skylights are two of the most common risks faced when working at height on roof repairs, renovations or cleaning. Potential problem areas are:

  • Fragile roof lights
  • Liner panels (horizontal support struts) on built-up sheeted roofs
  • Non-reinforced, fibre cement sheets
  • Corroded metal sheets
  • Glass (including wired glass)
  • Rotted chipboard
  • Loose slates and tiles

Industries where workers are more at risk of falls when working from height, include:

  • Roofing / roofing repairs
  • Roofing insulation
  • Commercial cleaning
  • Building / construction / engineering
  • TV aerial / dish installation

I was injured when working at height – do I have a claim?

The Work at Height Regulations 2005/07 are intended to protect everyone who has to work at height.

An employer who neglects or fails to minimise risk to ensure your safety can be found liable if you suffer a serious injury caused when working at height.

How Your Legal Friend can help you

As experienced personal injury specialists, we have over 30 years of experience in managing compensation cases involving accidents at work.  We are committed to guiding you through every step of the process and ensuring that your claim is handled carefully and professionally by specialist solicitors with a record of success in this field.

Our in-depth knowledge of workplace law and injury compensation can provide you with all the expert guidance you will need to help you succeed in making your claim.  We can:

  • work with you on a guaranteed no win, no fee basis
  • help you with medical treatment, rehabilitation and your return to work
  • ensure care and support services are available for the most serious injuries
  • advise you on how to claim for DWP benefits to help you along the way
  • skilfully manage your compensation claim to include:
    • payment for the pain and suffering caused by your injury
    • any financial losses you’ve incurred already, such as lost wages, travel and medical expenses
    • any expenses you may need in the future.

Talk to us today

For an informal, confidential chat with one of our specialist personal injury solicitors, call us now on 0808 250 7438 (calls free from landlines and mobiles). Or just complete the 'Start a new claim’ option on the right and we'll call you straight back.