Thorley Stephenson, Edinburgh Law Firm

Thorley Stephenson SSC is an Edinburgh based law firm providing a wide range of legal services in family, child and criminal court cases throughout Scotland. Tel: 0131 556 9599
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Workers Injured after Falling From Height

Falls from height continue to a major cause of injury in the workplace, despite wide recognition of the risks associated with working at height and the fact that information is readily available for employers on how to manage these risks safely. 

Fall from Height Statistics

Figures from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) show that over the last five years falls from a height accounted for an average of 40 fatal injuries per year (28% of the total).

Just under a half of all fall from height deaths over the last five years were in the construction sector (annual average 19 per year). Agriculture, forestry and fishing saw an average of five such deaths per year, and there was an average of four deaths per year over the period resulting from falls from a height in manufacturing.

Life-Changing Injuries

In one case recently reported by the HSE, a worker suffered life-changing injuries after falling from the bonnet of a tar laying machine.

He was standing on the bonnet of the machine to cut down branches of overhanging trees when he fell. He sustained a fractured back and damaged spinal cord causing permanent paralysis from the waist down.

When the HSE investigated the incident, it found that the man’s employer had failed to plan the task of cutting the overhanging branches and this resulted in an employee using the bonnet of the tar laying machine, which was not a safe place to work.

The company pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 4 of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and was fined £10,000.

“M & W’s failings resulted in serious and life changing injuries which could have easily been prevented had the company planned the work at height,” commented HSE Inspector Kirstin Lynchahon, speaking after the hearing. “Planning the branch cutting activity would have included an assessment of the risks and either avoidance of working at height using long reach tools or measures being put in place to prevent a fall.”

“Work at height is the biggest single cause of fatal and serious injury in the construction industry, particularly on small projects,” she added.

Fall Through Roof Light

In a second incident reported by HSE, a worker was seriously injured after falling 14 feet through a fragile roof light.

He worked for a farming business and was painting on a barn roof when he fell. He suffered a fractured pelvis as a result of the incident.

An investigation by the HSE into the incident found the employer failed to ensure that work at height was properly planned, appropriately supervised and carried out in a safe manner.

One of the partners of the family farming business was fined £1,675 and ordered to pay costs of £5,886 after pleading guilty to breaching Regulation 4 (1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

“Those in control of work have a responsibility to ensure safe methods of working are used and to inform, instruct and train workers in the safe system of working,” explained HSE inspector Victoria Bailey. “If a suitable safe system of work had been in place prior to the incident, the serious injuries sustained by the employee could have been prevented.”

Contact Us

If you have been injured at work then contact our specialist personal injury lawyers today to find out more about your compensation rights.

Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.

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