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Falls from a height

I have recently been looking at the various regulations that apply to people who work at heights and it struck me just how far we have come in protecting employees who work in these conditions.  I thought it would be a good idea to go through some of those so that if you are one of those people who DO work at heights you know where you stand in law.

Without doubt if you  work at height you  take a  risk that you may fall and sustain injury.  And of course the fact that you are working at height means that if an accident DOES happen and you fall then the injuries you sustain are likely to be serious.  This is the main reason why the law not only makes general provisions for people who may be injured at work but also makes specific provision for people working at height.

As a general starting point the law requires that an employer who employs staff  has the take reasonable steps to ensure that the employee is safe whilst he/she is at work.  This includes making sure that the site and system of work are adequate, that you are given adequate equipment to work with and that competent people are employed so that you are not injured because of someone else’s incompetence..

Over the years this “general duty” has been refined so that in addition to that general duty the employer must also comply with various statutes which are specifically there to protect employees.  The main set of Regulations in relation working at heights is the appropriately named “Working at Height “Regulations  2005 which contain a whole raft of rules and regulations.  In particular the Regulations require that an employer carries out a risk assessment of the working conditions to identify areas of risk and then take steps to avoid accidents happening.  For example, the employer is required to take steps to provide adequate working platforms, safe scaffolding, safety harnesses and protective clothing.  The Regulations are far reaching and are specifically there as an acknowledgement of the risks of working at heights.

In addition the Construction Regulations of 2007 may apply if you are working at height on a construction site.  These Regulations provide that the Employer must provide a safe place of work and also that structures you are working on (scaffolding or working platforms) are stable.

You may also find that the Manual Handling Regulations Operations Regulations 1992 apply to your accident if you are handling loads whilst working at height.  Again these regulations are far reaching and require your Employer to carry out a risk assessment of the manual handling risk and that appropriate steps to reduce the risk of injury.

This is not an exhaustive list of the Regulations but are the main ones because they are so comprehensive in their wording.  It may be that other regulations would also apply in the circumstances of your own particular accident and I would consider those with you if that was the case.

Remember that the Regulations do not place an absolute duty on your Employer.  When you pursue a claim you have to show that your Employer did something wrong but the Regulations (particularly the Working at Height Regulations ) are very tightly worded and the duty on an employer is high. They  are designed to protect you from injury.  At our first meeting I will ask you questions and then my job would be to identify which of the Regulations your employer has breached – and as you can see from above there are a lot to choose from!

Injuries from a fall from height are potentially very serious.  If this has happened to you then call me and I will be happy to meet up with you and explain how I can help.

Until next time

Lorraine

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