No Falls Week 2024 – Considerations when Working at Height

No Falls Week 2024 – Considerations when Working at Height

Carl Lillico

Written By Carl Lillico

The dangers of working at height have been brought into the limelight in recent years due to a rise in incidents. Just this year, a star of popular TV show Gogglebox George Gilbey (RIP) died following injuries sustained after falling from a height while working on a roof. The No Falls Foundation is a UK based charity committed to preventing falls from a height and supporting those suffering the consequences. No Falls Week 2024, taking place between May 13th-19th, is designed as a way to raise awareness about the risks associated with working at heights. This includes current regulations and what employers should have in place to minimise risks.


What is working at height?

According to the UK Health and Safety Executive(HSE), working at height includes any work that takes place at a height that, if no measures are put in place, could result in personal injury due to a fall. The exact definition might therefore change based on other factors associated with the workplace environment, as well as the height of the elevation. Working at height can happen in many industries, with common examples being Construction, Engineering, and Manufacturing. How working is height is defined may also be influenced by processes that are specific to the industry in question.


Working at height regulations in the UK

Rules around working at height in the UK are governed by The Work at Height Regulations 2005. It states that any employer overseeing work that takes place at height must make sure it has been planned, supervised, and carried out by qualified individuals. Employers must also provide adequate training to work at heights to those they employ. There is some flexibility regarding what measures employers can put in place, although there are instances where the guidance states that a specific action must be taken. For instance, if a worker needs to use a ladder guidance states that it must be tested to make sure it is fixed firmly to the ground and the higher surface.

Identifying safety risks when working at height

When the motion for No Falls Week was tabled in parliament, it was noted that a falling from a height has been the cause of 30% of workplace fatalities in the food and drink industry alone. Figures from the Health and Safety Executive report that there has been a total of 40 deaths in England, Wales, and Scotland related to falls from a height during 2022-3. This is in addition to the 1000’s of non-lethal falls that take place every business year. These accidents still have the potential to cause significant disruption to the lives of employers and employees, as well as potentially prevent individuals form returning to their line of work.

Employers have a duty to protect those completing work for them, regardless of the nature of their employment contract. This means taking steps to ensure workplaces are safe. When it comes to working at height, employers should focus on the following risk factors:

  • Slippery surfaces.
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
  • Weather conditions at altitude.
  • Training and experience.
  • Faulty or outdated equipment.
  • Fragile or corroded structures.
  • Duration of the activity.
  • Other hazards within the environment.

What can be done to ensure safety when working at height

Once all the relevant risk factors of working at height have been identified, it’s imperative that a mitigation strategy is then put in place. According to official HSE guidance, this means taking steps to:

  • Avoid working at height when possible.
  • Ensure workers can travel safely to and from height.
  • Minimise the distance from the ground when possible.
  • Provide appropriate PPE to protect from falling objects.
  • Maintain structures and equipment.
  • Put measures in place to prevent a fall, such as fixed edge and aperture protection to ensure the use of harnesses.
  • Consider everyone who could be at risk.
  • Evaluate workers’ competency to complete tasks when at height.
  • Have appropriate evacuation and rescue procedures in place in case of an emergency.
  • Make sure employees know how to report incidents under the regulations.

As an employer in an industry with potentially hazardous working conditions, it’s important to be able to adapt to address new risks when they arise. One of the main challenges comes when large scale operations include sites across multiple geographic locations. This is simply because it can be hard to visualise and risk assess all the safety risks when you aren’t able to examine the physical space. We have developed our own cutting edge digital solution in the form of the Jigsawsafe™ app. This interface features patented software that allows for the gathering and evaluation of operational data. As an employer or factory owner, you can remotely capture pre work (site visit) information that relate to the task in hand. Examining the digital information gathered via forms, pictures, and videos enables you to better risk assess, prepare, and make decisions for both safety and overall process efficiency.


Safety support for your workplace

One of the many things we are passionate about at the Jigsaw Group is making sure everyone can work in a comfortable working environment. A large aspect of this comes from having appropriate safety measures in place. Oftentimes, this also means going beyond the bare minimum outlined by industry regulations and considering the unique risks present in your workplace. Contact the team if you want to chat about our services and our Jigsawsafe™ app.

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