What Fraction of Fatalities at Work Are as a Result of Falls When Working at Height?

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What Fraction of Fatalities at Work Are as a Result of Falls When Working at Height?

Falling from a height remains one of the leading causes of fatal injuries in the workplace. In the 2022/23 period, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) reported that falls from height were responsible for 40 deaths, constituting 30% of all workplace fatalities. 

Here, we look at the proportion of workplace deaths attributed to these falls and explore the implications for health and safety practices.

What Is a Fall From Height?

A 'fall from height' in the workplace refers to any incident where a worker slips, trips or falls from an elevated position, including ladders, roofs, scaffolding or any raised work areas. These falls are among the most common causes of severe and fatal accidents in the construction, maintenance and warehousing sectors.

Because these injuries are so commonplace, businesses have a particular responsibility to take all necessary precautions to protect workers.

Statistics and Analysis

The latest figures from the HSE reveal that in the financial year 2022/23, falls from height were responsible for 40 workplace fatalities. This represents 30% of all fatal injuries reported during that period, underscoring the significant risk these incidents pose in the work environment. Additionally, these types of accidents accounted for about 8% of all non-fatal injuries to employees, highlighting their prevalence and impact across various sectors.

Comparing these numbers with other causes of workplace deaths is useful to put these numbers into perspective. However, the consistent figure of 30% for falls from height over several years points to an ongoing issue that demands targeted intervention.

The statistics also allow us to observe trends over time. Although the annual number of such fatalities has fluctuated, the proportion of deaths due to falls from height remains alarmingly high. This trend suggests that while some progress has been made in reducing the overall number of fatal workplace accidents, falls from height continue to be a critical area where further improvements are needed.

The Impact of Falls from Height

The impact of falls from height on workers and their families is profound and multifaceted. Fatalities are the most devastating outcome, leaving families without loved ones and often with significant financial and emotional burdens. Non-fatal injuries can range from minor to severe, including long-term disabilities that may permanently affect a worker's ability to earn a living and lead an active life.

Economically, the consequences for businesses are also significant. Workplace accidents, particularly those as severe as falls from height, can lead to substantial direct costs such as compensation payments, legal fees and increased insurance premiums. Indirect costs may include lost productivity, the need for training replacement employees, and potential damage to the company’s reputation, which can affect business relationships and profitability.

On an emotional level, the fear and trauma associated with witnessing or being involved in such accidents can contribute to a decline in overall morale among employees. This atmosphere can lead to decreased job satisfaction, reduced productivity and increased staff turnover.

Prevention and Safety Measures

Employers must implement comprehensive safety measures that adhere to regulations and best practices to avoid the risk of falls from height. Below are some of the key steps that businesses can take to ensure on-site safety:

Risk Assessment

The foundation of any workplace safety efforts is a robust risk assessment process. Employers must identify potential hazards associated with working at height and evaluate the risks associated with each task. This process should include assessing the work environment, the equipment used, and the tasks employees are expected to perform.

Training and Education

Another of the key strategies is providing thorough training and education for all employees working at height. This includes proper use of equipment, awareness of potential hazards, and the importance of following safety protocols. Regular training sessions ensure that safety remains at the forefront of workers’ minds, and that they are updated on the latest safety standards and equipment.

Use of Appropriate Safety Equipment

Employers must provide the correct personal protective equipment (PPE), such as harnesses, safety nets, guardrails, and other fall arrest systems. This equipment must be available, maintained in good working order, and suitable for the specific work type.

Implementation of Safety Protocols

Establishing and enforcing strict safety protocols is essential. These include clear guidelines on how to work safely at height, regular safety checks, and ensuring that all safety equipment is used properly. Protocols should be clear and accessible to all employees, and strict penalties for non-compliance should reinforce their importance.

Regular Inspections and Maintenance

Regular inspection of equipment and the work environment helps identify potential issues before they lead to accidents. This includes checking the stability and robustness of the surfaces used for working at height, ensuring all safety equipment is in excellent condition, and that any temporary structures are securely installed.

Creating a Safety-First Culture

Beyond regulations and equipment, fostering a safety-first culture is a necessity. This involves encouraging employees to take an active role in safety practices, promoting open communication about safety concerns, and ensuring that employees feel empowered to stop work if they deem conditions to be unsafe.

Talk to Us

If you have sustained a workplace accident in the last three years and the accident was a result of someone else’s negligence, contact the personal injury team to get your claim underway. Simply call us on 0345 872 6666, or let us know you would like to hear from us by filling in the contact form.

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