Fall At Work Injuries

HSE warning after serious fall injures worker

Despite constant warnings and awareness campaigns, workers are still suffering injuries at work after falls from heights. In fact, falls from heights constitute the largest number of work-related serious injuries every year. The latest incident involved a man falling from the first floor of a building he was working on. The man suffered life-threatening injuries as a result.

The man was using a power saw at an industrial estate in Staffordshire, when he fell through the side of the building in October last year. An investigation showed that the walls of the building had been removed and there was an inadequately positioned steel girder around the sides. This was the only measure of protection offered and the Health and Safety inspector called to the scene noted that although the steel girder had been placed around the sides of the building, there were still substantial gaps. He also stated in his report that there was a “significant risk” that other workers could have also fallen four metres to the ground below.

Only four metres. That’s all it took to put a worker in hospital with serious injuries. When you also consider that the worker was using a power saw at the time, you can immediately see that the risks were considerable. The company involved pleaded guilty to breaching section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and were fined £8,000 and ordered to pay costs of £6,000. And all for the sake of neglecting to make sure that an open area at height was adequately protected.

The assumption that working at a height of anything below five metres does not constitute a safety issue is a fallacy. Falling from height is the most common cause of workplace deaths. In 2007/08, 58 people died and nearly 3700 were seriously injured as a result of falling from height while at work. Approximately 75% of serious injuries resulted from people falling from below head height. These statistics from the HSE show that the common misconception that falls from height means plummeting from the top of tall buildings isn’t an accurate appraisal of the real situation. The key factor to remember in any case of an accident at work is the employer’s duty of care to ensure that the health, safety and welfare of every employee is considered and action is taken to prevent such accidents from occurring. Anyone working at height is at risk, and those risks must be assessed and reduced in any way possible. Putting a single steel girder around an open wall and leaving large gaps that people can fall through is a failure in that duty of care, and the courts agreed.

One of the most common types of injury compensation claims is brought as a result of individuals having accidents at work – mainly trips, falls and slips. Anyone working at height should be adequately protected against such falls, and if the employer fails in that duty of care and an accident is the result, then the victim has every right to be compensated for their injuries. When you consider not only the immediate effects of the accident but the potential loss of earnings through being unable to work for some time afterwards, then you can understand how important it is to pursue a claim. However, some people feel ‘guilty’ at pursuing a compensation claim against their employer, worried that it may affect their position within the company or even cause the company financial difficulties. But that should never be the case as pursuing a claim also highlights failings on the part of the employer and could help to protect others from suffering the same fate. You should never be afraid to pursue a legitimate claim for injuries sustained while working at height.

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