In the news recently, Father and son car dealers fined over skylight fall
In the news last month was an article about an incident where a worker fell through a skylight and how the company were failing to ensure the safety of their workers. Whilst there was absolutely no intent to hurt any of the workers, the correct procedures were also not in place which ultimately resulted in the accident.
Stories such as this – where employees fall from roofs – are incredibly common, and all too often result in fatal injuries. Falls are the most common form of serious workplace injury and therefore this is precisely the kind of health and safety breach that is most likely to attract the attention of your local Environmental Health Officer or HSE Inspector. Whenever work is ‘At height’ it should be subject to a risk assessment, which in turn prompts the question what is ‘At Height?’ The Work at Height Regulations provide the answer. They define a workplace as being at height ……’if a person can be injured falling from it even if it is at or below ground level’.
So is this yet another example of ‘Elf ‘n’ safety gone mad? Perhaps so – but only at first sight. How can anyone be hurt falling from the ground??!! Well for a start think about an older style motor vehicle workshop. Falling into an inspection pit is likely to get the person a fast trip to the local Intensive Care Unit accompanied by blues and twos, petrified family members and a Boss who has realised too late that he has made a serious mistake that may even put him out of business.
What about falling from a chair while changing a light bulb? After all we do it every day….. A friend of mine did it – and that 10 seconds resulted in 10 months of hospitals, pain, lost income and severe stress for both him and his family. He sustained a severely torn ligament which required surgery. The operation resulted in infection and attempts to counter this with antibiotics failed. The resulting secondary surgical intervention has resulted in further complications and there is no end in sight. The lesson? Use a well designed, safe stepladder, and if you are an employer make damn sure your staff do the same, that way you safeguard yourself, your business and your staff.
Oh – and by the way, if you were going onto a roof to fix a leak – don’t! At least not before you have properly assessed the risks and made absolutely sure that whoever is on the roof is totally safe!