Fall From Height ‘Epidemic’ Must Be Tackled, Lawyers Warn

HSE Reports Of Three Prosecutions In Past Week

20.09.2013

By Rob Dixon

The importance of emphasising the need for safety when working at height has been demonstrated by three separate prosecutions brought by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in the past week, according to workplace injury lawyers.

In one of the cases, roofing firm W Swindells & Son (Roofing) of St Helens was fined £4,000 in relation to an incident which saw a 51-year-old worker suffer life-changing injuries, which mean he will never be able to return to work, when he fell from the roof of St Marys Primary School in Chorley.

An investigation by the HSE revealed the firm had failed to put measures in place to prevent workers falling through skylights during the work to replace the roof on the school.

In a separate prosecution, Data Contracts Specialist Maintenance was fined £11,000 over an incident in July last year when a 58-year-old worker fell 11ft through a fragile roof during work in Nottingham.

According to the HSE, the employer failed to carry out an adequate risk assessment or properly plan and supervise the work.

Finally, Hampshire firm Cannon Technologies was fined £14,000 after a worker fractured his forearm in a two-metre fall from an office roof in an internal area, which was used to store boxes. The HSE found there was no provision of edge protection and the need for a better method of accessing the area.

Sally Rissbrook, a workplace injury lawyer at Irwin Mitchell’s Sheffield office, said: “Like so many of the cases we are involved in, these incidents highlight the horrific long-term consequences which falls from height have on victims.

“The work we do helps such victims to not only gain justice and answers over the failings which led to their injuries, but also allows them to access vital funds which aid their recovery and rehabilitation.

“Falls from height are widely known as one of the most common causes of workplace injury within the construction sector and it is vital that employers recognise the importance of ensuring work at height is properly supervised, assessed for risks and undertaken with proper safety measures in place.

“Too many people are hurt in this manner and there needs to be a concerted effort to ensure lessons are learned from each and every case.”

Read more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in relation to Falls From Height claims.