A question all employers whose industry involves any form of working at height need to be asking themselves regularly is ‘am I doing enough to protect my workers?’. It may seem a little too obvious a question to take seriously, yet despite the fact the dangers of working at height are well known and fairly clear, accidents and fatalities that happen whilst working at height are still extremely common and much of the time it is down unsatisfactory risk assessments, or lack thereof, that leaves site operatives open to the many threats that are presented when working at height.
Just last week two more companies faced significant penalties after the HSE found there to be a substantial number of safety breaches on the sites. A small firm faced large fines after a site worker fell through an unprotected skylight whilst attending work in the early hours of the morning whilst it was still dark. None of the skylights were protected which resulted in the worker falling through and causing significant injury to himself. Something as obvious as this should have been picked up and certainly could have been prevented by carrying out a site survey and detailed risk assessment before the operatives attended site. The correct preventative measures were not taken and thus the blame fell onto the hands of the firms’ owner. The 2005 Work at Height Regulation 6(3) states “Where work is carried out at height, every employer shall take suitable and sufficient measures to prevent, so far as is reasonably practicable, any person falling a distance liable to cause personal injury.”
This law doesn’t only apply to direct employees either, section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 states that if you’re employing other companies to work on your behalf it is also your responsibility to ensure that the area of work is safe and that the sub-contractors are fully qualified to carry out the work at hand and relevant risk assessment measures are carried out. A small ‘green energy’ firm and a solar installer were recently prosecuted after one of their sub-contract workers fell nearly 7 metres from an unprotected roof whilst working. It found several severe safety breaches at the site, one of these being that neither firm had identified the lack of edge protection on the roof as a danger to workers and had thus failed to provide or arrange for some form of edge protection system to be put in place. As a result, when the worker slipped there was nothing to protect him falling as so he suffered severe injuries and was hospitalised as a result. Incidents such as these pose a high level of threat to life, along with significant threat to your business should such an incident occur under your responsibility. One of these businesses has since gone into liquidation!
So, although it goes without saying that almost every employer has the safety of their staff in mind at all times, the level of care you provide them with is what needs to be regularly evaluated as your workforce and the types of service you provide expand. Protecting your operatives whilst they’re working at height goes much further than simply ensuring they have the correct protective wear on!
Heightsafe Systems can provide full roof/work at height survey reports and ensure adequate and tested safety equipment is in place to allow safe access to any area of your business where working at height is required. Get in touch today to find out more on 0845 604 6890