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Workers’ safety is an employer’s responsibility – especially at dizzy heights

08th February 2019

Cases involving falls from height are still too common despite the UK’s current working at height regulations. These rules place significant obligations on employers who require work to be done at locations from which, if there are no precautions in place, a person could fall a distance liable to cause personal injury.

One such case arose from an incident involving the removal of asbestos roof sheets from a disused building in Poynton, Stockport. The principal building contractor and the company undertaking the work agreed the asbestos sheets should be removed using a cherry-picker or scissor-lift – an approach that complied with the regulations and would have allowed workers to access the roof from below without requiring them to go out onto the roof itself.

However, despite the agreed procedure, two workers were allowed to climb onto the roof to remove some sheets from above. No safety equipment was provided. One worker fell from the roof and suffered critical injuries including collapsed lungs, rib and hip fractures, and a ruptured left-shoulder tendon. He will be affected by his injuries for the rest of his life after a month-long stay in hospital. In the wake of the accident, the companies were prosecuted by the government’s Health & Safety Executive (HSE) for allowing the workers onto the roof without having previously put safety measures in place.

Here at George Ide LLP we have dealt with a range of such cases including that of a pub worker who fell through a hole in the bar floor after a cellar trapdoor was left open, and an apprentice who fell through an aircraft hangar roof having been sent out onto the roof without safety equipment.

There is a common misconception that HSE rules ban the use of ladders and step-ladders but this is not the case – there are many situations in which a ladder is the most suitable equipment for working at height. However, an employer must provide the most suitable equipment for the task at hand and take into account factors such as working conditions, the nature, frequency and duration of the work, and the risk to the safety of everyone in the vicinity. Workers should never feel pressurised into working at height without appropriate protection.

If you have any concerns about working conditions or health and safety rules, or you would like to talk to one of our experts about a personal injury case, contact the George Ide team on 01243 786668 or email us at info@georgeide.co.uk.

Garry Sleet. Personal Injury department

General, George Ide, News, Personal Injury Blog
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