In 2007, a Liverpool company “Copelare Limited of Derby Buildings” was fined £5000 following the fall from a roof of one of its employees, who sustained serious injury. This accident, along with many others, highlights the dangers of working at heights, as well as the potential penalties that can be incurred by lapses in edge protection.
Whilst edge protection in this case was implemented by a sub contractor rather than Copelare, legislation is such that responsibility for the accident falls directly onto the company involved, who should of worked with the sub-contractors to establish safe fall protection system, as well as managing its correct operation during use.
With all fall protection systems, the inspection process should be at the forefront of implementation, and whilst it is imperative that a safety system is thoroughly checked prior to use by employees, it is also important that all safety equipment is checked annually, which will ensure the continued integrity of the system.
In regards to edge protection in particular, it is important that the system is watertight, and that, for example, a barrier is constructed around the roof edge, which does not present a risk of a worker falling through any exposed gaps.
Unfortunately, even the most conscientious companies, with the most rigorous safety strategies, will not be immune to hazard, and therefore alongside preemptive measures, it is also important that you have a comprehensive rescue strategy in place, bolstered by regular training and properly tested rescue equipment.