Working from height accidents are common in construction but can happen in any industry. Julie Hatton, Partner in Coodes Solicitors’ Personal Injury team, explains what you can do if you feel you want to make a claim.
Working from height accidents are common and, sadly, often very serious. According to a recent Health and Safety Executive (HSE) report, falls from height accounted for nearly half (47%) of fatal accidents in construction between 2015 and 2020.
Despite their prevalence, many people are unsure exactly what constitutes a working from height accident. So, it’s worth having a look at what ‘work at height’ actually means.
What is a working from height accident?
Work at height means working in any place where, if precautions were not taken, a person could fall a distance liable to cause injury. You are judged to be working at height if there is a possibility of falling and getting injured. People are often surprised that it doesn’t matter how high you are.
You are working at height if you:
- Work above ground or floor level.
- Could fall from an edge, through an opening or fragile surface.
- Could fall from ground level into an opening in a floor or a hole in the ground.
Therefore, a working from height accident could occur in any of these situations.
Be aware that work at height does not include a slip or a trip on the level. A fall from height must involve a fall from one level to a lower level. It does not include walking up and down a permanent staircase in a building.
Your employer’s responsibilities
Your employer has a legal responsibility to keep you safe at work. There are a number of regulations that apply to working at height, many of which include how an employer is responsible (to a reasonable extent) for their employee’s safety.
Employers who are planning the work must be sure to:
- Ensure that employees are instructed and trained to work at height.
- Ensure the work is planned, organised and supervised at all times.
Properly control the risks from fragile surfaces.
- Take weather conditions into account each time working at height tasks need to be carried out.
- Check that all equipment for working at height is checked and inspected.
- Check the place where working at height will take place is safe.
- Take care to take any precautions that minimise the risk of falling objects.
Your responsibilities as an employee
Of course, employers can’t control everything. You, as an employee, have a level of responsibility to control your own safety.
Employees must ensure that:
- They comply with Working at Height Regulations.
- They are not under the influence of any intoxicant which could lead them to become a danger to themselves or others at work.
- They use the working at height equipment or tools they have access to, which prevents falls or dropping tools, as well as wearing appropriate PPE.
- They report any known dangers in the workplace, such as defective equipment that may become a health and safety risk.
- They behave in a responsible manner to protect the safety and health of themselves and others.
- They take advantage of the safety training provided by the employer.
What to do if you’ve had a working from height accident
If you suffer a working from height accident, or any other accident at work, you should report it to your employer as soon as it has happened. You should also make sure the incident has been recorded and ask for a copy of the incident report. Seek medical attention for your injuries if required. It is also important to keep evidence of any expenses, such as parking or medical receipts, that you incur as a result of your injuries.
When can you claim compensation
Being injured at work can affect you in a number of ways. As well as the physical and emotional impact, you may also be faced with a loss of income as a result of being unable to work.
If you have experienced a working at height accident, get in touch with a qualified personal injury solicitor to determine whether you can claim for compensation. This could provide you with some financial support to help you through challenging times. As well as recouping any lost earnings, it could also help you cover treatment fees and access rehabilitation.
Our specialist personal injury lawyers have a wealth of experience in securing compensation for people who have suffered workplace accidents. If you feel you may be entitled to make a claim following a working at height accident, please get in touch with us for a confidential discussion.
For further information or advice on these issues please contact Julie Hatton in Coodes Solicitors’ Personal Injury and Clinical Negligence team on 01326 214036 or Julie.firstname.lastname@example.org.