As we have mentioned previously, falls from height remain one of the biggest causes of workplace fatalities and major injuries. 

Investigations by the HSE into falls from height are in the news on a regular basis, and the conclusion is usually that the accident could have been avoided.

In The News

One such investigation by the Health and Safety Executive, following an accident in June 2017, led to Basingstoke Magistrates’ Court ordering a roofing company to pay a £60,000 fine after an employee fell 6m from the open edge of the roof to the concrete floor below, sustaining multiple. 

The Birmingham based company pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 4 (1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005, were fined £60,000 and ordered to pay costs of £7,164.80. 

The investigation by the HSE found that the accident could have been avoided had the proper plans and supervision been in place to ensure the risks created by working at height on a roof were carried in a safe manner. 

More recently a Scottish company has been fined £20,000 for breaching Section 3 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 after a self-employed roofer was seriously injured when he fell from a roof. The worker slipped and fell through an existing roof light onto the suspended ceiling below.  In this case, the HSE concluded that the main cause of the incident was insufficient identification of risk in the work being done.

And finally, a Cheltenham based company were fined £55,620 after a 17-year old worker fell more than three metres through an opening for a roof light which was covered by insulation. The worker was lucky to be alive and sustained life-changing injuries, including multiple broken bones in his right leg and foot. The HSE concluded that the young worker was not provided with sufficient supervision and guidance while working on-site and was unaware of the risks involved with working at height and that the company failed to ensure that work at height was properly planned and appropriately supervised.

Keeping Safe

Specialist roof access products and fall arrest netting such as the ones provided by Kee Safety or Huck Nets would have gone a long way to ensuring the safety of anyone working on the roof and reducing the risk of injury to workers. 

Two workers in hi-vis clothing and PPE working on a fragile roof. They are using an appropriate roof access system and safety harnesses

Fragile Roof Access Systems by Kee Safety

Using appropriate Industrial Roof Access Equipment the risks associated with working at height on fragile roofs can be mitigated. Providing short term protection to workers, the systems are easy to assemble and provide workers with a safe working platform for inspection, maintenance and cleaning works.

Workers using appropriate safety netting while working at height

Photo courtesy of Huck-Net

Protecting workers while they are working at height is essential. Fall arrest safety netting, such as the one shown above, is an ideal choice and one of the preferred fall prevention methods of the HSE.

One huge benefit of this system is that it allows workers to go about their work without the limitations that come from using fall arrest equipment such as harnesses.

Further reading:  

https://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/books/hsg33.htm 

https://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/books/hsg150.htm 

Topaz Health and Safety can advise on all aspects of health and safety compliance for your construction site. Contact us today to discuss your requirements.