• Total Access Total Access Ethentic Ethentic
    Higher Safety Higher Safety Chipmunk Data Chipmunk Data

    HIGHER PERSPECTIVE ON LOWER FALLS

    Barney Green of Higher Safety takes a look at ‘low falls’

    The current HSE Shattered Lives Campaign is looking to address the injuries caused by all falls, both ‘high’ and ‘low’.

    In this short article Barney Green of height safety consultants Higher Safety takes a look at the potential for injury from low falls.

    Low fall potential for injury underestimated 

    When we mention work at height, or height safety, the mind immediately moves towards towering, vertigo inducing, activities like high rise, bridge building, roofing. We see mast and towers, harnesses and climbing systems, and work that must be described as specialist. If we then look at the statistics, we realise that it is actually the falls from low level that are greater in number, produce more injuries and even fatalities, and are much harder to address.

    The main reason is the poor awareness of the low level fall’s potential for injury. Most people, when placed on a leading edge 15m above concrete, are fully aware of the injury potential of their situation, but they will happily jump up onto a flat bed trailer to assist in roping down or unloading, with no thought of the potential of a fall.

    We even have the old “2m rule” that became accepted practice as a “definition” of “a fall likely to cause injury.” The rule never existed, however best practice in many a trade took cognisance of it. In reality, the term required judgement, which by definition is subjective, and we all pleaded for common guidance on “what is acceptable.”

    Now we have the Work at Height Regulations, with no height mentioned and a very clear hierarchy to work within. Added to this problem is the generally short, quick fix nature, of much of the work. “I’ll just hop up on this and have it fixed in no time ……”

    Fall arrest is not a option for low falls

    The other problem with low falls, is that they are notoriously hard to arrest once started. Harness and lanyard solutions require the fall energy to be absorbed, and this needs height (note that before SG4 Appendix A, a scaffold contractor would argue that it was pointless to clip on below 4m). Safety nets also need a clearance distance.

    As always, the first route to solution should involve avoiding the need to work at height (see hierarchy). Much more effort is needed in this area, and this can include pre-assembly, remote connections, and detailed planning. This is now common place for areas of high “real” fall hazard, but often ignored as too much detail in low fall areas.

    Following the hierarchy, we should then move to collective prevention, and this is the area of edge protection and guardrails for high falls, but they are often seen as restrictive, “in the way” (impractical), and expensive relative to the perceived risk for low falls. A regular access route for a plant driver might have a dedicated stairway, but what about a platform to provide the fitter with access to the engine ?

    Significant effort has been invested by manufacturers in offering a large range of low fall solutions. There are many flat bed truck solutions, many guard railed hop ups, lightweight mini scaffolds, and even adjustable height steps with platforms and guardrails.

    The NASC has made great strides in directing scaffolding best practice towards advanced guard rails moving away from tunnelling, to address this issue in their trade. For the reactive solution there are always the bean bags and air mats to minimise the consequence of the fall. All offer some protection and all have their place.

    Awareness and perception is key

    The real problem is the awareness of the potential for injury in a low level falls. On the one hand we have the “nanny state” and “six people needed to change a light bulb,” and on the other we have the statistics of horrible, debilitating injury, or even death, from low level falls by well intentioned workers just “nipping up to fix it.”

    Barney Green

    Higher Safety – Feb 2010

    Latest Construction Health and Safety News

    HSE ENFORCEMENT WEEKLY UPDATE 11th JULY 2018

    hselogo1Prosecutions and enforcement notices register latest version

    Read the rest of this article »

    Posted on 11th July 2018

    SCAFFOLDER DEVELOPMENT EMBRACED BY INDUSTRY

    CPD training attracts over 2500 scaffolders during first year of operation

    Read the rest of this article »

    Posted on 11th July 2018

    SECURITY PANELS FELL DESPITE EARLY WARNING

    Firm fined £1/4 million after worker crushed by falling fencing

    Read the rest of this article »

    Posted on 10th July 2018

    VEHICLE STRIKE TRIGGERED FALL OF ROOF TRUSSES

    Manufacturer failed to identify a suitable safe system of work

    Read the rest of this article »

    Posted on 10th July 2018

    INCIDENT: CHILD STRUCK BY FALLING OBJECT

    Wood falling from scaffold triggers arrest of two on construction site

    Read the rest of this article »

    Posted on 10th July 2018

    IGNITION OF THINNERS VAPOUR CLAIMED TWO LIVES

    Refurbishment project director jailed over fatal use of flammable solvent

    Read the rest of this article »

    Posted on 10th July 2018

    HSE LONDON REFURBISHMENT CAMPAIGN FINDINGS

    hselogo1Material breaches of law found at over 50% of London sites visited

    Read the rest of this article »

    Posted on 4th July 2018

    CURFEW AND TAGGING FOR RECALCITRANT SCAFFOLDER

    Suspended jail sentence handed down after unsafe work at height

    Read the rest of this article »

    Posted on 4th July 2018

    CONSTRUCTION SECTOR DEATHS RISE SHARPLY

    HSE report construction worker deaths increase by 27% during 2017/18

    Read the rest of this article »

    Posted on 4th July 2018

    BUILD UK UPDATE KEY CONSTRUCTION H&S ADVICE

    Majors industry body endorses “go to” source of H&S information

    Read the rest of this article »

    Posted on 2nd July 2018

    OXYGEN CYLINDER “FIRED” INTO WORKSHOP

    Violent discharge of gas bottle seriously injured two engineers

    Read the rest of this article »

    Posted on 2nd July 2018

    PRISON SENTENCE OVER FAILURE TO MANAGE RISK

    Sole trader contractor ignored HSE advice once too often

    Read the rest of this article »

    Posted on 2nd July 2018

    DEATH EXPOSED MINIMAL MEWP MAINTENANCE

    Court told about “almost complete” lack of MEWP maintenance

    Read the rest of this article »

    Posted on 21st June 2018

    CONTRACTOR FAILED TO IDENTIFY ASBESTOS PRESENCE

    ACMs disturbed during works and firm failed to take suitable actions

    Read the rest of this article »

    Posted on 21st June 2018

    FALL THROUGH ROOF ON LOCAL COUNCIL BUILDING

    Fragile rooflight fractured when workman ‘misplaced footing’

    Read the rest of this article »

    Posted on 21st June 2018

    YOUNG WORKER POSED SPECIAL RISK TO CONTROL

    Conviction highlights duty to young persons and the vulnerable

    Read the rest of this article »

    Posted on 21st June 2018

    TOWER DEFECTS AND UNSAFE SYSTEM CAUSED DEATH

    Maintenance supervisor fell to his death through roof opening

    Read the rest of this article »

    Posted on 21st June 2018

    UK MAJOR FINED £1/2m OVER HAVS RISK FAILURES

    Danger caused by poor management of vibrating hand tool risk

    Read the rest of this article »

    Posted on 21st June 2018

    DIRECTOR FAILED TO COMPLY WITH PROHIBITION

    Precautions not taken to prevent excavation collapse and falling

    Read the rest of this article »

    Posted on 11th June 2018

    SCAFFOLD NOT TO INDUSTRY STANDARD OR DESIGN

    Specialist and contractor in court over unsafe work at height

    Read the rest of this article »

    Posted on 7th June 2018

    ROAD WORKER RUN OVER BY ROAD ROLLER

    Reversing alarm not working and warning light not fitted

    Read the rest of this article »

    Posted on 5th June 2018

    CLIENT AND SURVEYOR FINED OVER ASBESTOS SURVEY

    Refurbishment and demolition asbestos survey proved inadequate

    Read the rest of this article »

    Posted on 5th June 2018

    FATALITY: ROAD WORKER DRAGGED ALONG ROAD

    Night shift worker loses life when struck by road sweeping vehicle

    Read the rest of this article »

    Posted on 3rd June 2018

    CDM PRINCIPAL DESIGNERS AVOID HSE ENFORCEMENT

    Regulator enforcement database reveals few notices involve CDM PDs

    Read the rest of this article »

    Posted on 3rd June 2018

    PROPERTY MANAGERS FINED WITH CONTRACTOR

    Defendants failed to check for asbestos during soffit replacement works

    Read the rest of this article »

    Posted on 29th May 2018
    Total Access Total Access Ethentic Ethentic
    Higher Safety Higher Safety Chipmunk Data Chipmunk Data