The high ground. Is it an advantage?

Tom Lilliott 2019

Tom Lilliott
Apprentice Consultant, Assurity Consulting
6th December 2019

Towards the end of November, two consecutive articles were released by the HSE, both involving sentences to employers who didn’t put the correct precautions into place with their employees working at height. One was unfortunately a fatal case, and one involved a non-fatal case with life changing injuries.

The first case occurred in Northamptonshire, where an employee of Mr Ramsey was paralysed from the waist down following a fall whilst installing a roof ladder so they could paint the dormer windows on a client’s roof. A later investigation reviled that the work at height hierarchy had not been followed, resulting in the employee having the incorrect equipment. A risk assessment would have revealed that scaffolding would have been required due to the duration of the task and the use of ladders being inappropriate.

After pleading guilty in court to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, Mr Ramsey was sentenced to a 12-month community order, 160 hours of unpaid work and ordered to pay costs of £2,124.28 with a surcharge of £85.

The second incident occurred in Hereford, where Stephen Webb fell 7 metres through a fragile roof panel whilst installing solar panels to a barn, suffering fatal injuries. A later investigation found no measures were in place to prevent this fall. After sentencing HSE inspector James Lucas said, “There are no winners in this tragic case. Falls from height remain one of the most common causes of work-related fatalities in this country and the risks associated with working at height are well known.”

Light Power Grp Limited pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 4 (1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005. The company has been fined £80,000 with a victim surcharge of £120. The director of Light Power Grp Limited, Michael Webb, also pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 4 (1) of The Work at Height Regulations 2005. He was given a 12-month community order to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work and ordered to pay costs of £15,000 with a victim surcharge of £60.

Cases like these highlight the importance of having preventative procedures in place when working at height. Making up 25% of all workplace fatalities, a fall from height is the leading cause. Furthermore, it makes up 8% of non-fatal injuries.

The most common place for a fall from height to occur is on a ladder where 40% of falls occur, followed by vehicles (e.g. the back of a lorry) at 17%. Remember you don’t have to go up to be in a position of height, you just have to find yourself in a location where there is a drop.