Working at height is inherently dangerous and sometimes accidents will happen that are no one’s fault, however in some circumstances the accidents can be as a result of an employer’s negligence for not providing proper training or the correct equipment for a particular job.
If an employer has failed in their ‘duty of care’ to keep an employee safe and minimise the risk of personal injury by providing the correct training and equipment it is likely they are in breach of the Working at Heights Act 2005.
In 2013-2014 the Health & Safety (HSE) reported that 6,521 employees suffered injuries sustained from falling from height in the workplace with 39 of the incidents being fatal. Falling from height in the workplace is the most common cause of fatalities in the workplace accounting for 29% of fatal injuries to workers
Working at height is a necessity for certain workers and this was one of the reasons that the Working at Heights Regulations 2005 were introduced to provide those workers with the protection they required.
Previous regulations have mainly focused on construction and building industries. The latest regulations extend to reach all industries where the risk of injury from a fall may occur such as, gardeners, factory workers, window cleaners and so forth.
What is meant by ‘Working at Height?’
Working at height means any work undertaken in any place above or below ground level, where an individual could sustain an injury from a fall in that place. Entrances and exits can also be deemed as work at height. Typical examples of places where falls can happen are:
- Vehicles/Fork lift trucks
- Platforms/Roofs/Temporary ceilings
- Warehouse racking
The Health & Safety Executive define the regulations that anyone in a position of authority, employers and those that are self-employed owe all workers a duty of care and are thereby responsible for any injury that is suffered as a consequence of their negligence to uphold the conditions of the regulations.
Those that owe a duty of care must ensure that:
- Any work at height is prepared and organised correctly
- workers are trained and capable
- risk assessments have been completed
- Any equipment being has been inspected and is fit for purpose.
Can ladders be used?
With the strict procedures set out in the Working at Heights Act 2005 many people have asked if using ladders whilst working at height is still seen as an adequate and safe solution.
Ladders are still considered usable on the proviso that a risk assessment shows that a ladder is the only dependable and appropriate tool for the task in hand.
The problems surrounding ladders is that they are considered a temporary fixture that is easily moved and as a consequence easy to move whilst someone is still on the ladder. This in itself heightens the risk of someone falling from a ladder and sustaining an injury. Ladders are the highest cause of work injuries related to falling from height.
The regulations do allow for ladders to be used where a risk assessment shows only a ladder would be suitable; however scaffolding should always be the first choice and used if appropriate to avoid any chance of an accident occurring to the workers involved.
Who is responsible for enforcing the regulations?
People who work at height, those who employ or manage people working at height are responsible for ensuring the working at height regulations are applied and maintained.
There is a responsibility outlined in the regulations for employed workers to report any risks that have not been identified by those who have a duty of care, i.e. their employer, manager or equivalent.
Furthermore any tools and equipment that has been provided must be used in accordance with the training given to employees or the equipments user manuals.
If an employee fails to notify an employer of potential risks or does not use the provided equipment in the correct way they could find that they are held responsible for any ensuing injuries caused by an accident at work to either themselves or other workers.
Claiming for a fall at work
If you have suffered an injury from a fall at work and feel that it was a result of someone else’s negligence for failing to provide a safe working environment then you may be entitled to make a compensation claim for the injuries you have suffered.
All employers are required by law to have insurance in place to cover situations where they have failed to adhere to regulations either through carelessness or negligence and as a result someone has suffered an injury through no fault of their own.
Our specialist solicitors at Injury Claims Assistance will be able to claim compensation on your behalf and handle every aspect of making a claim from start to finish at no cost to you.
Please contact us today to speak directly to one of our solicitors for a free assessment of your injury claim.