The attached article explains how a man had his leg, hands and a foot amputated following an electric shock in a breach of health and safety in the workplace.

This case is a stark reminder of the risks of working at height, which remains one of the biggest causes of fatalities and major injuries. Employers must make sure that work is properly planned, supervised and carried out by competent people with the skills, knowledge, correct equipment and experience to do the job. Failing to comply with your duties not only leaves your employees at risk of injury but companies and individuals at risk of prosecution by the HSE or the Local Authority. This may lead to fines or even a prison sentence, which could seriously impact the viability of a business.

But where to start? First you must assess the risks, weighing up the height, duration and frequency of the task as well as the condition of the surface being worked. Go through these three simple steps:

  • avoid work at height where it's reasonably practicable to do so;
  • where work at height cannot be easily avoided, prevent falls using either an existing place of work that is already safe or the right type of equipment;
  • minimise the distance and consequences of a fall, by using the right type of equipment where the risks cannot be eliminated.

Even where you are a small company with fewer than 5 employees and therefore not required to record your risk assessments in writing we would always advise you to do so when considering working at height. Completing written risk assessments / method statements ensures that you work through the points logically, assists in sharing this information with your employees during training and can be of great value should you ever face an investigation by the HSE.

Further guidance on working at height can be obtained from the HSE website.

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