Hardly a week goes by without an all too painful and sometimes tragic reminder of the importance of having the proper safety equipment in place when carrying out any kind of work at height. The safety of contractors, employees, and visitors on site, however, takes more than simply ensuring that adequate protection, such as guardrail systems and safety lines with adequate PPE are in place to list just a few. As important as these are, stress testing is crucial as well. Rigorous fall arrest systems’ testing means everyone knows that safety is being taken seriously, that equipment is fit and safe for purpose and, as anyone involved in commercial projects that involve working at height knows, safety has to come first every time.
Christmas was a sad time for the family and friends of 68-year-old heating engineer, Alan Young, who died after falling from mobile scaffolding that was missing guardrails, had no wheel brakes, and hadn’t been properly erected in the first place. His employer Barnet Homes Ltd was fined £37,000 and ordered to pay £75,000 in full costs, after they admitted a breach of the 1974 Health & Safety at Work Act, at Southwark Crown Court, on December 15th. Mr Young had been repairing a leak in a boiler and was working alone at height when he fell, sustaining fatal head injuries. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said Mr Young’s employers had failed to carry out a proper risk assessment.
Elsewhere, a Preston roofing contractor had to pay a £10,000 fine for not taking adequate safety measures and prevent access to scaffolding they had erected at the Royal Preston Hospital, in Fullwood. As a result, a teenage patient who was staying at the mental health unit at the time, gained access to the roof of the hospital. The vulnerable 17-year-old fell, breaking her back and pelvis. A subsequent HSE investigation into the incident in 2013 found that W Hughes and Son Ltd had failed to fence off steps that gave access to the scaffolding. Speaking afterwards, the inspector said it was vital that construction firms think carefully about how they planned projects in public places.
The list goes on. A simple oversight, cutting corners to save money, not carrying out proper risk assessments, or not getting the expert advice they need when planning a project – all reasons why some contractors can find themselves in trouble. Worse than trouble, the consequences of not have the proper safety measures in place can be devastating for the individuals involved, as well as the company reputation. At Heightsafe Systems, we know that safety comes before everything else and advise our customers accordingly.
If you need any help or advice, please get in touch today on 020 3819 7199.