When we thinking of working at height, we think of scaffolding and skyscrapers, wind turbines and oil rigs, but the fact is that it doesn’t take a 1000ft fall to kill or seriously injure a human being. It doesn’t have to be 100ft. Sometimes 10ft is enough to cause serious injury, especially if the landing site is uneven or an unforgiving surface like solid concrete. Sometimes a fall of as little as 5ft can result in broken bones or worse.
The Health and Safety Executive recently made the decision to prosecute the employers of a worker who fell just two metres (6ft) at Heathrow Airport. The individual was working on aircraft maintenance duties and, presumably because the potential fall was such a short distance, wasn’t operating within the appropriate guidelines. His face and knee were seriously injured in the accident.
Height safety should be a consideration anywhere there is fall potential. It can be very tempting not to bother putting the regulation safety protocols in place when working at relatively low heights, especially as a drop of 6ft doesn’t provoke the same fear reaction that a 100ft drop does, but the dangers are still there. Workers can still be injured and companies can still be prosecuted.
We’re not saying that all workers more than a foot off the ground need to be fully harnessed for fall arrest purposes. Often guardrail systems are the answer and they’re usually simple to install. There are all kinds of solutions to make working at height safe, suitable for all kinds of heights.