Working at height is responsible for more accidents in the workplace than any other single cause and as such has the potential to lead to an inordinate amount of employees unable to work, poor morale among employees, court cases and severe fines for failing to comply with strict government protocol.
Take a look at the data from 2015/16, in terms of distribution of causes of fatal incidents in the workplace:
Falls from height: 37
Struck by moving vehicle: 27
Struck by moving object: 15
Trapped by overturning: 13
Contact with machinery: 9
Drowning or asphyxiation: 8
In May a principal contractor, main contractor and subcontractor were ordered pay fines amounting to £526,500 because an employee fell through a fragile roof light while working at Portsmouth’s flagship leisure centre, falling 4 metres. This came after a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation came to the conclusion that the three organisations involved had failed to plan and mitigate against the risks involved in working at height.
Had they done things properly – in other words, had everyone throughout the various levels of employment received the relevant training – then they would have known that when planning a job involving working at height it is vital to analyse:
• The exact height from which a potential fall could happen.
• The risk of being hit, or hitting others with falling objects.
• Any hazards below that could worsen the impact of a fall.
• The risks involved with any MEWPs (Mobile Elevated Work Platforms) being used.
Jobs involving working at height must be planned by those who have been trained in working at height for managers (MEWP for Managers) and the actual physical work should be carried out by employees who have kept their work at height training, accredited by industry leaders such as IPAF fully up to date. Work at height training teaches us that working at height should always be a last resort, but when it is necessary all possible eventualities should be carefully looked at and a system of prevention put in place that could involve job-specific personal protective equipment such as harnesses or fall arrest cables, while guard railings on MEWPs (Mobile Elevating Work Platforms) should be considered.
In addition to the legal, moral and ethical reasons for ensuring that employees at all level are suitably trained in working at height there is also a sound financial reason for making sure your company or organisation is kept fully compliant. Training can seem an expensive exercise, but when you consider that failing to ensure that the company given a contract has kept up to date with health and safety training in working at height has as recently as May 2018 seen fines dished out to those involved in contracting, it should lead to more contracts coming the way of fully compliant businesses. In addition you will cut down-time, employee sickness, damaging fines, legal battles and boost staff morale.
All of these factors can actually serve to increase revenue. Now is the time to ensure that no short cuts are taken when it comes to IPAF work at height training.