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Falls from height still biggest workplace killer

Although fatal accidents at work are thankfully rare, recent HSE statistics still report that 137 people were killed while going about their daily job during 2016/17.

Falls from height remain the biggest workplace killer, accounting for an average of 40 fatal injuries each year.

There are stringent health and safety rules in place for working at height and breaches can carry extremely hefty fines.

Iceland Foods was recently fined £2.5m for breaching health and safety after a contractor fell from the roof of their Rotherham branch.

The 58-year-old contractor was replacing air conditioning filters above a suspended ceiling in the warehouse when he plunged three meters from a platform that did not have a safety handrail fitted.

Mr Hopkins sustained serious injuries in the fall and later died in hospital.

Whilst a Hull bakery was fined £1m and ordered to pay costs of £30,000 after a self-employed electrical contractor died when he fell from a step ladder.

The contractor was wiring a motor situated above a machine when he fell from the ladder provided by the company, suffering fatal injuries. Hull Crown Court found the bakery guilty of breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 by failing to properly plan the work place activity, including access arrangements.

Non-fatal falls from height

Non-fatal injuries following a fall from height account for around 43,000 cases each year. Although these obviously have less serious outcomes, they can still result in life changing injuries or lengthy recovery periods.

A construction worker who was installing joists and flooring at a property in Grimsby suffered a serious spinal injury which left him paralysed from the chest down, wheelchair-bound and unlikely to ever work again, after he missed his footing and fell through the gap between the first floor joists. His employer was fined £26,000 for failing to take appropriate measures to mitigate falls.

While locally, an operative replacing the flat roof of a building in Moorends fell after a roofing joist failed. He suffered three cracked ribs and was unable to work for seven months.

His employer, St Leger Homes, responsible for managing Doncaster Council’s 21,000 properties was fined £250,000 after being found guilty of contravening the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

HSE inspector Stuart Whitesmith commented: “Those in control of work at height have a responsibility to ensure that it is properly planned and appropriately supervised to ensure that it is carried out in a safe manner. “

In addition to the fines, personal injury compensation can be pursued by those injured in workplace accidents or by their dependents in fatal cases.

Author: Gail Harris

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