As an employer, you must protect your employees from falls from height. Statistics show that falls from height are one of the biggest causes of workplace fatalities and major injuries in the UK. Common examples include falls from ladders and through fragile roofs.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), describes work at height as meaning work in any place where, if there were no precautions in place, a person could fall a distance liable to cause personal injury. For example you are working at height if you:
- are working on a ladder or a flat roof;
- could fall through a fragile surface;
- could fall into an opening in a floor;
- or a hole in the ground.
In a practical example the London Zoo has been fined £40,000 after a keeper was injured in a fall from a faulty step ladder which was wrongly retrieved from a skip.
The HSE offers this advice to businesses:
"Before working at height you must work through these simple steps:
- avoid work at height where it is reasonably practicable to do so;
- where work at height cannot be 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 risk cannot be eliminated."
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London Zoo has been fined £40,000 after a keeper cleaning out a hawk aviary fell off a faulty step ladder that was wrongly retrieved from a skip. Angelina Lawson suffered neck injuries in the accident while removing droppings from a shelf under the birds' perches. The step ladder had been consigned to a skip because it was defective, but was accidentally brought back into use as it had not been labelled as faulty, Westminster Magistrates' Court heard.