Fall from height injuries - Health & Safety analysis

Falls at height an in depth analysis 2725

Falls from height are a very common accident at work that often result in people suffering very serious injuries.

Indeed, according to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), such incidents are the most common cause of fatalities in the workplace and data collated by the body shows that, in 2008-09, 35 people died after falling from height as part of their duties.

Meanwhile, during the same 12-month timeframe, 4,654 major injuries and 7,065 health issues that caused a professional to be off work for three days or more were sustained due to falls.

Since then, incidents where people have injured themselves in this way have remained common at places of work such as building sites and construction projects.

These accidents can be caused by a variety of factors, but when it is proven that a company's negligence has led to such an incident, the individual involved could decide to seek damages for their ordeal.

Recent examples of fall from height injuries include:

Just this month, there have been numerous instances of organisations facing legal action after falls from height occurred on their premises or while they were conducting work elsewhere.

For instance, earlier this week, it emerged that Glasgow-based firm Morrison Facilities Service had pleaded guilty to charges imposed by the HSE of breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 during a project it was managing in the Midlands.

During this incident, an unnamed 49-year-old suffered serious fractures to both his back and neck when he fell a distance of 2.4 metres through a fragile roof while working on a project commissioned by Gedling Homes in Gedling in July 2010.

At the time of this accident, the professional was working alongside a colleague to replace cement sheets on the roof of a single storey outhouse and he climbed up to the surface via a triple ladder while his co-worker operated from ground level.

During the exercise, one of the concrete sheets slipped and hung from the roof, meaning the man attempted to get down from the surface.

However, when he placed his hand on the collapsed sheet, he fell straight through it and landed head first on the concrete ground below.

Due to the severity of his injuries, the man had to spend ten days in the Nottingham Queens Medical Centre and also needed to wear a body and neck brace every time he was mobile for some three months after his fall.

Furthermore, he needed help when washing and dressing in this time and remained in constant pain for some time afterwards.

In a case heard at Nottingham Magistrates' Court, the HSE stated that the professional's employer had failed to properly plan and supervise this project.

Nic Rigby, inspector at the HSE, commented: "This incident has left a man with life-changing injuries yet it could have been avoided if a suitable and sufficient risk assessment had been carried out.

"This would have identified the need for this work to have been properly supervised and carried out by trained staff."

Elsewhere in August, RG Stones (Buldings) admitted breaking health and safety regulations after an incident at a school in Ellesmere, Shropshire, in which one of its employees broke several bones after falling a distance of around three metres n August 2011.

William Phillips was attempting to replace a canopy that had been put up between two buildings at the school when he fell between two timber joists to the concrete floor below.

Consequently, the 52-year-old fractured his breastbone, back, ribs and right wrist and an investigation by the HSE established that RG Stones had failed to put in place any protective measure to prevent such accidents from occurring.

Meanwhile, Roofwise (Bourne) and Taylor Pearson Construction also faced legal action earlier this month following an incident in Lincoln in May 2011, in which an anonymous professional suffered a broken pelvis, a shattered heel and a fractured thumb when he fell from height.

Will these professionals receive compensation?

As yet, the individuals involved in these falls from height are yet to decide whether or not to seek civil damages for their ordeals.

However, after the companies involved admitted their negligence in court cases following the accidents, all are likely to be eligible for compensation settlements.

Posted by Emily SwansonADNFCR-1500-ID-801439198-ADNFCR

30/08/2012 16:23