Ethentic Ethentic Higher Safety Higher Safety Chipmunk Data Chipmunk Data
  • Higher Safety Higher Safety Chipmunk Data Chipmunk Data Ethentic Ethentic

    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

    CONSTRUCTION SITE DEATHS SET TO FALL?

    HSE in-year fatality records for 2018/19 suggest significant reduction

    Read the rest of this article »

    Posted on 22nd March 2019

    HSE ENFORCEMENT DATABASE UPDATE 20th MAR 2019

    hselogo1Latest online register of prosecutions and enforcement notices

    Read the rest of this article »

    Posted on 20th March 2019

    BRICKLAYER FATALLY INJURED BY FALLING WALL

    Masonry collapsed during concrete back filling operation

    Read the rest of this article »

    Posted on 18th March 2019

    BASIC LADDER SAFETY FAILURES FINED £150,000

    Repair and maintenance firm had no excuse for errors causing injury

    Read the rest of this article »

    Posted on 18th March 2019

    HSE ISSUES REMINDER ON SAFE SCAFFOLD DESIGN

    Recent incidents and high winds prompt warning from regulator

    Read the rest of this article »

    Posted on 12th March 2019

    LORRY DRIVER DIED IN OVERHEAD POWER STRIKE

    Major company failed to communicate precautions to grab arm operator

    Read the rest of this article »

    Posted on 12th March 2019

    ASSESSMENT SHOWED RISK – PRECAUTIONS NOT TAKEN

    Workman seriously injured when falling into open unguarded stairwell

    Read the rest of this article »

    Posted on 1st March 2019

    MAJOR FIRM FAILED TO IMPLEMENT SAFE SYSTEM

    Procedures for safe plant refuelling failed to prevent death of workman

    Read the rest of this article »

    Posted on 26th February 2019

    CLIENT PROSECUTED OVER CONTRACTOR FATAL FALL

    Company breached duty to protect contractors as well as employees

    Read the rest of this article »

    Posted on 26th February 2019

    FOURTEEN YEAR FAILURE TO MANAGE ASBESTOS

    Firm failed to implement asbestos management plan following survey

    Read the rest of this article »

    Posted on 25th February 2019

    CHILD INJURED BY WALL COLLAPSE INCIDENT

    Council failed to carry out “intelligence led” condition inspections

    Read the rest of this article »

    Posted on 18th February 2019

    BOTTLE JACK SUPPORT FAILED TO PREVENT DEATH

    Director sentenced alongside company over death of engineer

    Read the rest of this article »

    Posted on 18th February 2019

    TEMPORARY WORKS FAILURES CAUSED FATAL FALL

    Platform not designed and system for installation and inspection inadequate

    Read the rest of this article »

    Posted on 18th February 2019

    SOLVENT IGNITED DURING FLOOR CLEANING WORKS

    Flammable solvent fire fought with water spreading fire further

    Read the rest of this article »

    Posted on 13th February 2019

    INEVITABLE COLLAPSE OF SCAFFOLD ON TO SCHOOL

    Scaffold not designed or installed to withstand foreseeable loads

    Read the rest of this article »

    Posted on 13th February 2019

    OIL DRUM EXPLODED DURING HOT CUTTING WORK

    Firm fined £400k after drum lid ejected causing loss of leg

    Read the rest of this article »

    Posted on 12th February 2019

    ROOFLIGHT FALL ON NUCLEAR POWER SITE

    Energy generating company and maintenance contractor fined

    Read the rest of this article »

    Posted on 12th February 2019

    DIRECTOR PROSECUTED AFTER 6METRE ROOF FALL

    Untrained worker fell through rooflight in fragile asbestos roof

    Read the rest of this article »

    Posted on 12th February 2019

    HSE ALERT: MILD STEEL WELDING CANCER RISK

    HSE announces enforcement action change based on new cancer evidence

    Read the rest of this article »

    Posted on 11th February 2019

    LORRY MOUNTED LIFTING OPERATION PROVED FATAL

    Steel staircase toppled from vehicle after sling snagged

    Read the rest of this article »

    Posted on 7th February 2019

    DIRECTOR AND BUSINESS IN COURT OVER DEATH

    Scaffold not priced for on domestic roof-line refurbishment work

    Read the rest of this article »

    Posted on 6th February 2019

    FRAGILE ROOFLIGHT HAZARD PROTECTION MISSING

    Two businesses prosecuted after a worker fell through a fragile rooflight

    Read the rest of this article »

    Posted on 5th February 2019

    STRUCTURAL SAFETY BODY LATEST NEWSLETTER

    CROSS publishes reports and expert comment on a range of issues

    Read the rest of this article »

    Posted on 4th February 2019

    FINGERS CRUSHED BY METAL FOLDING MACHINE

    Steel cladding firm fined £600k over failure guard access to danger

    Read the rest of this article »

    Posted on 4th February 2019

    ASBESTOS ILLEGALLY REMOVED AFTER SURVEY

    Surveyor pricing asbestos work found contractor jumped the gun

    Read the rest of this article »

    Posted on 4th February 2019
    Ethentic Ethentic Higher Safety Higher Safety Chipmunk Data Chipmunk Data
  • Higher Safety Higher Safety Chipmunk Data Chipmunk Data Ethentic Ethentic