Accidents and Falls from Height – New guidelines

Have you had an a fall from height while working?  If you have suffered injury the HSE’s new guidelines can help you win your claim.

The HSE has updated its guidance on working at height.

The government has announced an overhaul of current guidance for individuals carrying out work at height, with a focus on reducing overly-complicated and burdensome regulations, while at the same time ensuring worker safety.

To date, more than 3,000 articles of legislation have either been scrapped or updated under the government’s ongoing Red Tape Challenge and this latest announcement is an extension of that process.

Now, in a move designed to bolster these efforts for simplicity and understanding, the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) has updated its guidance for this area, which is itself one of the most dangerous practices for staff.

Every year up to ten million people are estimated to carry out tasks which involve some form of working at height and therefore the new guidance from the HSE aims to provide clarification on best practices that can make the difference between individuals carrying out work safely and suffering severe and even life-threatening injuries.

Health and safety minister Mike Penning commented: “As part of the government’s long-term economic plan, it’s vital that businesses are not bogged down in complicated red tape and instead have useable advice about protecting their workers.

“As a former fireman, I know that the ten million people who are working at height in this country face risks in their job. But I’m also clear that managing these risks can be done sensibly, by giving simple and clear advice and tackling the myths that can confuse employers.”


Key issues to be aware of

The new guidelines will provide a clear and simple list of do’s and don’ts to ensure all businesses are clear on what the law requires, while many of the myths surrounding work at height – including the fact some people believe you need a qualification to use ladders (not true) – have been exposed and debunked.

A new focus on targeting advice specific to individual sectors is being brought to bear and the HSE is keen to ensure workers themselves are clearer regarding their responsibilities when it comes to staying safe while working at height.

Best practice recommendations from the HSE include ensuring all work that can be carried out from the ground is done so and where work at height cannot be avoided, prevent falls by using either an existing safe place of work or the appropriate equipment to raise personnel into the required position.

Always remember to minimise the distance and risks of any potential fall and remember not to overload or overreach when working at height.

Assess the risks involved in any proposed task and thoroughly plan all work at height in advance in order to mitigate risks to staff safety as much as possible.


Know the consequences of poor planning

A good example of the significant impact both for businesses and the individuals of poor practices when working at height was highlighted this week at Westminster Magistrates’ Court (January 30th).

Bedfordshire fitting company D M Specialist was prosecuted by the HSE after 51-year-old Stewart Alazia from Paddinton in London suffered a fractured skull and bleeding on his brain after receiving severe head injuries in what was seen as a preventable fall from temporary scaffolding.

He had been dismantling boards and other materials from a temporary platform spanning two scaffolding towers when he lost his balance and fell several metres to the ground below, striking his head upon impact.

His injuries have subsequently led to Mr Alazia suffering from depression, as well as ongoing treatments for blackouts and headaches linked to his trauma.

The firm pleaded guilty to breaching the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and was fined a total of GBP 12,000 as a result of Mr Alazia’s injuries.

HSE inspector Jack Wilby commented after the hearing: “His continued suffering some two years on is another powerful reminder of why work at height has to be properly planned, managed and supervised, with sufficient measures in place to prevent falls.”


Accidents and Falls from Height – New guidelines

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