More Working at Height Fatalities: Are Employers Doing Enough?
Working at height led to the deaths of 40 people in the last year, compared to 35 the year before. According to recent HSE fatality statistics, it’s the number one cause of work-related deaths in the UK. It raises the question, are employers doing enough to protect workers?
Time for more severe sentencing?
This month saw the verdict from a fall from height case, following an accident in December 2016. Samuel Goemans of Cedar Ridge Construction Limited fell from a tower scaffold and suffered life-changing injuries. The principal contractor failed to control safety and planning on site and was fined £40,000 and ordered to pay costs of £3,184. In addition, the sub-contractor pleaded guilty to carrying out unsafe working practices; the director received a Community Service Order for 100 hours.
The case highlights the culpability of individuals, as well as businesses. The Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 has long found individuals to be liable for the health and safety of employees. But how seriously are employers taking this? Is it a big enough stick to get employers to protect those working at height?
For the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Working at Height, more needs to be done. In the APPG’s first report ‘Staying Alive: preventing serious injury and fatalities while working at height’ the group made four recommendations, including more robust reporting on falls from height.
“It is imperative that the government takes forward the recommendations made in our report which have been devised with input from industry and key stakeholders.” Commented Alison Thewliss, APPG chair and MP for Glasgow Central.
What does this mean for employers?
As an employer, you’re responsible for the health and safety of your employees. This means assessing risk and managing it. Did you know that the geographical area you work in impacts the risk your business faces?
Another consideration is the industry you work in. 10 million people work at height in the UK and unsurprisingly, many of those are working in construction. But the recent HSE report results shows the other industries contributing to last years’ fatality numbers.
Whilst the absolute figure for construction is high, when looking at the fatal injury rate (i.e. the number of fatalities per 100,000 workers) agriculture and waste come out worst.
If your employees are working at height, you’ll want to make sure you’re doing everything you can to manage risk. A good place to start is to conduct a gap analysis. What is this risk? What have you got in place that effectively manages it? And what could be better?
Adhering to HSE industry guidelines is vital. It will mitigate the risks that threaten those employees who work at height. And in the unfortunate event of an accident, an investigation can’t find you liable if you’ve taken all required precautions to manage risk.
How safe are your employees?
Unsure how robust your current health and safety practices are? If you want to be certain you’re adhering to industry standards, consider contacting Moorepay for support and advice. Our team are qualified by the most rigorous health and safety bodies in the country. Plus, they’re available via a 24/7/365 helpline.
If you do choose to get in touch, you can expect a fully qualified team member to conduct a gap analysis and an initial audit of your organisation, including a review of your existing documentation, policies and procedures.
For more information about our H&S service, take a look at our H&S service web page here or contact us on 0345 184 4615 for an initial conversation.