Falling from a height resulted in 7,000 workplace injuries between 2008 and 2009, reported the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). This data is a little over 50% of all reported serious injuries annually.
Between 2011 and 2012, dropping down from a height made up one of the four most common fatal injuries amongst workers. Other serious workplace injuries involve being caught by a structure that has collapsed or hit by a vehicle or a mobile object.
However, falling from a height, which is reported almost every day, is of particular concern in workplaces today. There are strict requirements regarding risk assessment and monetary penalties are frequently imposed in the courts.
According to the HSE, the message regarding safety precautions for workers is simply not getting across to some employers or it could be that some employers are deliberately evading taking responsibility for these types of hazards.
A recent incident when a worker fell off a wooden potato crate secured to a forklift as a temporary platform was a typical example of the employer failing to recognise or implement safe working practices.
This particular employee was employed by a Leicester firm which fitted doors. At the particular time of the accident, he was trying to fit a motor to a wall for a roller shutter door. The crate, without warning, tilted violently and he was subsequently tossed 5 metres on to the ground below. He broke one of his wrists as well as a heel, an ankle and an elbow and spent 3 months recovering after an operation.
Accidents were a real probability in this type of arrangement with potentially very serious consequences for the workers involved. The HSE ensured the company would see the inside of a court room for breaching 8(b) of the 2005 Work at Height Regulations. The company was eventually fined the sum of £ 2,870.
The HSE reported that, in 2011 and 2012, nearly half a million work days were lost due to a non-fatal injury.