28 Nov 2014

Safety failings land scaffolding firm in court

A Carmarthenshire scaffolding company has been fined for safety failings that exposed workers to serious risks of injury from a fall.

It follows an inspection on 22 May 2014 by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) at a site in Old Station Road, Carmarthen, next to the safety regulator’s local office.

At the time, a scaffolder was seen standing on a platform only two boards wide at a height of approximately four metres. There were no guard rails in place or any other means to prevent a fall, such as the use of a harness.

Llanelli Magistrates’ Court heard today (27 Nov) that it wasn’t the first time that HSE had been forced to take action against Castle Scaffolding (Wales) Ltd for unsafe work at height.

The company had previously received written warnings from HSE. The first occasion in January 2012 resulted in a Prohibition Notice being issued and the second occasion in September 2013 resulted in the company receiving a Notice of Contravention. Both instances concerned unsafe systems of work relating to the erection and dismantling of scaffolding.

Castle Scaffolding (Wales) Ltd, of Old Coal Yard, Tir Onnen, Station Road, St Clears, Carmarthenshire, was fined a total of £10,600 and ordered to pay £2,500 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching Regulation 4(1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and Regulation 5 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.

Speaking after the case, HSE Inspector Hayley Healey said:

“While it is fortunate that no-one was injured during the work in Old Station Road, the erection and dismantling of the scaffold was clearly unsafe, and those working on the scaffolding were exposed unnecessarily to high levels of risk.

“Death and serious injury following falls from height are all too common, and proper planning is vital to ensure the work is carried out safely and that the correct precautions are identified and used at all times.

“Castle Scaffolding fell far short of the standards required to ensure that work was carried out in a safe manner. It is of particular concern that the company failed to implement adequate monitoring of health and safety standards following previous intervention and advice by HSE inspectors.”

For more information about working at height safely visit the HSE website at: http://www.hse.gov.uk/falls/index.htm

Routine maintenance checks and a systematic approach to equipment inspections will help to keep equipment running efficiently and safely. The Good to Go Safety system offers a simple but highly effective tagging and checklist system to ensure that critical safety checks are completed before the equipment is used. A documented audit trail provides management with invaluable evidence of their safety and management programmes in the event of an accident. The tag itself provides a visual reminder to carry out pre-use checks and will clearly indicate if and when a check has been completed by displaying its findings. For more information visit www.goodtogosafety.co.uk

25 Nov 2014

30th anniversary of the worlds worst industrial accident.

December 2014 marks the 30th anniversary of the world’s worst industrial accident tragedy on record. Over 500,000 people were exposed to a poisonous gas cloud following a leak at the UCIL pesticide plant in Bhopal, India, killing thousands and injuring hundreds of thousands more.

The cause of the disaster remains under debate. The Indian government and local activists argue slack management and deferred maintenance created a situation where routine pipe maintenance caused a backflow of water into a MIC tank triggering the disaster. Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) contends water entered the tank through an act of sabotage.

What cannot be questioned however are the lack of process safety management and/or lack of adequate maintenance or safety programmes throughout the site. UCC admitted in their own investigation report that most of the safety systems were not functioning on the night of 3 December 1984.

In September 1984, an internal UCC report on the Virginia plant in the USA revealed a number of defects and malfunctions. It warned that "a runaway reaction could occur in the MIC unit storage tanks, and that the planned response would not be timely or effective enough to prevent catastrophic failure of the tanks". This report was never forwarded to the Bhopal plant, although the main design was the same.

The Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) has released a free download in remembrance of the tragedy which can be downloaded here:

This document focuses on what went wrong, the impact of the disaster and the lessons learnt as a result.

We have come a long way since that fateful day, thirty years ago. Safety has been designed into plant and processes to help make industry inherently safer.

Interestingly, this year is also the 40th anniversary since the Health and Safety at Work Act received Royal Assent, protecting millions of British workers, and driving sharp reductions in incidents of occupational death, serious injury and ill health.

Incidents like that of Bhopal remain stark reminders that we can never afford to relax our focus on safety in the workplace. We continue to read stories on the HSE website of fatalities and injuries on a daily basis, or of fines for flaunting safety regulations. We have come a long way in a relatively short time, but there is still much work to do.

The worry is that in austere times, safety may take a back seat as industry looks to cut costs; but when these cost-cutting measures take the life of a worker from their loved ones, then the need to remind employers of their responsibilities and the potential consequences of their actions hold increasing importance.

Ignoring a fault on equipment “because it is still working” or putting it off until it becomes inoperable is a short-sighted, inefficient and potentially dangerous course of action. What starts off as a minor problem can soon develop into a much more costly repair and ultimately terminal failure. What may have been a simple 30 minute repair could result in equipment being out of action for days or weeks, the cost of downtime being considerable.

Routine maintenance checks and a systematic approach to equipment inspections will help to keep equipment running efficiently and safely. The Good to Go Safety system offers a simple but highly effective tagging and checklist system to ensure that critical safety checks are completed before the equipment is used. A documented audit trail provides management with invaluable evidence of their safety and management programmes in the event of an accident. The tag itself provides a visual reminder to carry out pre-use checks and will clearly indicate if and when a check has been completed by displaying its findings. For more information visit www.goodtogosafety.co.uk

19 Nov 2014

Famous Faces on Forklifts

Our “Climbing the Ladder to Fame” blog proved a popular addition last month so we’ve decided to follow up with a search for the rich and famous that were keen to show off their love of the trusty old forklift this month.

Our forklift tagging and checklist systems are a popular addition to any safety and/or maintenance programme – allowing daily checks to be carried out and reducing the risk of faults developing into major repairs or costly accidents. I wonder how many of these celebrities carried out a pre-use check before they jumped behind the wheel?"

If you come across any other famous faces on a forklift that you’d like us to add to the gallery then send them to us by email to social@goodtogosafety.co.uk or tweet us @goodtogosafety or post on our Facebook page.

Let’s kick things off with a bit of glamour and style as we see pop divas, Kylie & Beyonce, and model, Christie Brinkley striking a pose alongside their favourite forklifts.

From there we move on to the sporting arena with F1’s Romain Grosjean and football’s DJ Campbell

Next up we see a rare photo of a smiling Gordon Ramsey who has clearly found his forklift in good working order

While Dr Who’s companion appears a little concerned – Amy Pond has clearly spotted one or two faults during her inspection and is keen to put the truck into quarantine whilst awaiting repair.

Even the stars of animation get in on the act with Trumpton’s Mr Bell the farmer helping out and a more recent Ryo Hazuki (of Shenmue games) looking good to go with his truck.

That’s it for now – don’t forget to send us a picture if you spot your favourite celebrity aboard a forklift - we'll add it to the blog and give you a shout out for your troubles. More importantly don’t forget to check your forklift before you use it – visit www.goodtogosafety.co.uk for the best in forklift inspection systems. 

Thank you to our friends on Twitter; @mhwmagazine and  for sending us this latest famous face on a forklift. This time it's the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, behind the wheel.

17 Nov 2014

Builder fined over unsafe roof work.

A Tameside builder has been fined after he allowed workers to carry out unsafe roof work in Stalybridge, despite previously receiving a formal warning about the issue.

Gerard Hurst, who trades as Ashton Roofing and Building Construction, was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after the building work on Brushes Road was spotted by a passing inspector on 20 May 2014.

Trafford Magistrates’ Court heard today (14 November) that four men were working on the first day of a project to replace the dormer roofs on a semi-detached house. One of the workers was seen by the inspector passing building materials to a second worker on a scaffolding tower.

The scaffolding did not have any edge protection, such as boards or safety rails, and there was no protection around the flat roof they were working on. This meant there was a risk of workers falling to the ground below.

Mr Hurst was served with a Prohibition Notice requiring the work to stop until improvements had been made.

The court was told that the 46-year-old had previously received a Prohibition Notice in September 2010 over a similar issue on another job, but had repeated the error on the Brushes Road project and put lives at risk as a result.

Gerard Hurst, of Winchester Road in Dukinfield, was fined £1,280 and ordered to pay £1,865 in prosecution costs after pleading guilty to two breaches of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Laura Moran said:

“When I drove past the building site in Stalybridge, I could see immediately that the scaffolding wasn’t safe. Closer inspection revealed that there was nothing in place to prevent the men from falling from the roof which they were replacing.

“I served Mr Hurst with a Prohibition Notice, requiring the work to stop until safety improvements had been made to prevent falls from height. However, when I entered his details on our database, I discovered he had received a similar enforcement notice from HSE nearly four years earlier.

“We do all we can to support business owners to look after the safety of their workers but if they continue to ignore our advice then we’re left with no choice but to take legal action.”

An average of 1,000 serious injuries and 10 fatalities occur every year in the UK following accidents involving scaffolding. That's 19 major injuries every week.

Good To Go Safety™ helps employers meet their legal duties, through the use of an innovative equipment tag and pre-use checklist system. The scaffold status can be instantly updated following any structural alterations, periods of bad weather, as part of its 7 day check or daily inspection programme. Scaffold inspections have never been easier and can reduce the risk of a costly scaffold collapse or accident.
For more information Click Here.
13 Nov 2014

Window washers saved from scaffold dangling from One World Trade Center

Rescue crews rushed to One World Trade Center early Wednesday afternoon where scaffolding is dangling from the side of the soaring tower.

Two window washers were trapped outside the 69th floor of the skyscraper in downtown Manhattan until they were rescued through the glass at 2:15 and 2:16 p.m.

"It was within two minutes," FDNY spokesman Brian Norton told Yahoo News. "We cut the window and pulled them in … They are going be evaluated"

His colleague Frank Dwyer said they received a call about the frightening scene around 12:42 p.m.

“We have more than a dozen units including several highly trained specialized rescue companies that deal with high-angle rescues,” Dwyer said to Yahoo News at the time.

“We have them tethered. They have safety harnesses,” Dwyer continued. “We are in communication with them. We are working to remove them as we speak.”

Emergency workers could be seen cutting a glass window from inside the Freedom Tower shortly after 2 p.m. to retrieve the stranded workers.

Despite the swift response by authorities, the harrowing sight continued to frighten onlookers.

WABC reported that the trouble all started when a cable snapped.

Scaffolding rescues are not terribly uncommon, especially in cities like New York.

In January, FDNY firefighters rescued two workers who were on a scaffold when it collapsed on New York's Upper East Side. In June, another two workers were rescued in Midtown when the scaffolding they were standing on suddenly tilted, leaving them dangling 12 stories above until emergency responders from the FDNY and NYPD could pull them to safety.

The New York Fire Department tweeted this photo along with this "#FDNY rescuing workers trapped on scaffolding outside 1 World Trade Center. View from the 68th floor."
12 Nov 2014

A Guide to Workplace Transport Safety

The HSE have published a new “guide to workplace transport safety” to take account of new advice on workplace transport safety and changes to relevant legislation and associated guidance.

This guide provides advice for employers on what they need to do to comply with the law and reduce risk. It will also be useful for managers, supervisors, employees and their safety representatives, as well as contractors, vehicle operators and other organisations concerned with workplace transport safety. You can download a free copy here: www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/priced/hsg136.pdf

It now includes advice on controlling risks associated with workplace transport, which has been restructured into three main areas:
• Safe site (design and activity)
• Safe vehicle
• Safe driver

Below is an extract from the guide, providing advice and recommendations relating to vehicle maintenance:

Maintenance and Repair

229 Every employer must make sure that work equipment is maintained in an efficient state, in efficient working order and in good repair. Carry out inspections of vehicles and associated equipment to ensure this happens, including daily driver checks before using the vehicle and regular preventive (planned) maintenance inspections based on time or mileage. Always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines on regular maintenance.

230 Employers should give drivers a list of daily checks to be signed off before vehicles are driven. Drivers will need instruction or training in how to carry out these checks and should be monitored to ensure they are carrying them out properly. There should be a simple system for reporting any problems and deciding if the vehicle is safe to use or if it needs to be taken out of use while waiting to be repaired.

231 Planned maintenance inspections should comply with the manufacturer’s guidelines and include:
• the braking system. Vehicles should have suitable and effective brakes, both for general service and for parking. Brakes need to be connected and working properly and, if they are independent of one another, they need to be properly balanced;
• the steering system;
• the tyres, which should always be inflated to the correct pressure, have good tread (if designed to have tread) and generally be in good condition;
• mirrors and any fittings that allow the driver to see clearly or detect hazards (for example, CCTV cameras and sensing systems);
• windscreens, windscreen washers, wipers and lights;
• any warning devices (for example, horns, reversing alarms or lights);
• any ladders, steps, walkways or other parts that support people or make it easier for them to access parts of the vehicle;
• any pipes, pneumatic or hydraulic hoses, rams, outriggers, lifting systems or other moving parts or systems;
• regular monitoring of lubricant and hydraulic fluid levels, and pneumatic pressure levels;
• any specific safety systems, for example control interlocks to prevent the vehicle or its equipment from moving unintentionally;
• headboards, anchor points and sheeting hooks for damage or distortion, particularly welded joints;
• vehicle-mounted equipment such as lifting or delivery equipment

232 Each year many people are injured while carrying out vehicle maintenance and repair. You should ensure there are safe systems of work in place for this type of work to reduce the likelihood of injury.

Case Study

A shunt driver fell from a lorry cab because of a faulty door. He hit his head on a concrete floor at his company's depot and died some days later from his injuries.

The company had failed to deal with the faulty handle because of a "systemic failure" in its vehicle checks. The shunt vehicles were treated as low priority for repairs and maintenance, and vehicle servicing was often late. The company was prosecuted, fined and ordered to pay costs.

Since the accident, new vehicles have been bought and maintenance improved.

Good to Go Safety

At Good to Go Safety we recognise the importance of carrying out pre-use checks of vehicles as part of a successful maintenance regime.

By carrying out daily or pre-shift inspections of vehicles, not only do you comply with the guide’s recommendations, as above, but you also meet your obligations under The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER).

By using the Good to Go Safety Safe Equipment Management Systems (SEMS) you will be provided with a duplicate copy of each completed checklist which can be incorporated into your safety and maintenance management programs – providing invaluable evidence in the event of an accident that a systematic inspection procedure is in force.

We believe that by carrying out frequent inspections, any faults will be spotted early, allowing them to be repaired before they develop into a major fault – saving money and increasing driver safety. The findings of each completed inspection are clearly displayed inside a tag fitted to the vehicle for all to see, raising awareness of the company’s procedures.

We currently offer SEMS for a number of vehicles – including forklift trucks, mobile elevating work platforms (MEWP) and even fleet vehicles (cars and small vans). For more information visit www.goodtogosafety.co.uk
10 Nov 2014

How often should a scaffold be inspected?

A scaffold used for construction should be inspected before it is used for the first time and then every 7 days, until it is removed.

It should also be inspected each time it is exposed to conditions likely to cause deterioration e.g. following adverse weather conditions or following substantial alteration.

For more information CLICK HERE to view the Work at Height Regulations PDF.


"In 2013/14 there were 133 fatal injuries."

HSE 2013/14 Injury and Ill-health Statistics

6 Nov 2014

South London waste firm’s ‘dismal’ safety record - The importance of using an SEMS correctly.

A waste firm in south-east London has been prosecuted after repeatedly putting its employees at risk of injury, or even death, from use of heavy machinery that was often left in a dangerous condition.

Westminster Magistrates today (5 Nov) heard that the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) had to serve Greenwich-based Murphys (Waste) Ltd with a total of ten enforcement notices between 2009 and early 2014. The most serious breaches related to defects in machines which presented a ‘risk of death or serious personal injury to employees and people on site’.

HSE told the court the latest two failures, relating to a loading shovel and a 360 degree excavator, had prompted the prosecution of the company in light of their poor safety record.

During an annual inspection by an engineer in Oct 2013, several defects were found with the loading shovel. The worst was extensive damage to the bolts fixing the front bucket to the machine, which could have led to the bucket falling off and crushing anyone nearby.

Murphys (Waste) Ltd was advised not to use it until repairs were carried out but were later found to have kept it in use until a visit by HSE in January 2014, when a prohibition notice was served to halt any further use of the vehicle.

In a visit just days later, HSE identified an excavator was being used but had neither its left-side mirror or rear mirror in place, severely restricting visibility of the driver while moving about the site, again posing a risk to other workers. HSE served a further prohibition notice on the company preventing its use.

The court was told that on top of these two breaches, the company had been inspected by HSE six times over five years resulting in eight enforcement notices. Two of these had related to defects on a shovel loader and one had required the firm to introduce a proper system for maintenance of the vehicles.

Murphys (Waste) Ltd of Horn Lane, Greenwich, SE London, was fined a total of £6,000 and ordered to pay £1,287 in costs after admitting two offences under the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.

After the hearing, HSE inspector John Crookes said:
“Murphys (Waste) has a dismal record of compliance with safety legislation and seemed to be content with repeatedly exposing its employees to unnecessary danger.

“This is a waste management company that takes bulk material from construction sites and uses heavy earth-moving plant. The risks associated with the waste industry are well-documented and widely recognised, but it is one of the most dangerous sectors.

“No company in the industry should be failing to address these risks and no worker should be regularly exposed to such uncontrolled dangers. All work vehicles and equipment must be kept in an efficient condition and in good state of repair.”

Waste and recycling is one of the industries in which employees are most likely to be injured by their jobs according to the latest 2013/14 HSE statistics with 486 major/specified injuries.

Notes to Editors:

1. The Health and Safety Executive is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to reduce work-related death, injury and ill health. It does so through research, information and advice; promoting training; new or revised regulations and codes of practice; and working with local authority partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement. www.hse.gov.uk

2. Regulation 5(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations states: “Every employer shall ensure that work equipment is maintained in an efficient state, in efficient working order and in good repair.”

Press enquiries

Regional reporters should call the appropriate Regional News Network press office.

Safe Equipment Management Systems

Equipment inspection checklists can be an important addition to any company’s safety program - but not all checklists will offer the solution you are looking for. After all they are only useful if they are being used correctly by a competent person and there are several pitfalls that companies can fall into when carrying out their inspection regimes.

Many companies tend to create their own checklists or simply buy a generic checklist that covers a multitude of equipment types. The danger of going down this route is that the design, layout and running order of checks can be confusing and vary greatly, whilst the detail is often inadequate or incomplete – leading to inaccurate and potentially dangerous assumptions.

A good safe equipment management system will:

• Provide you with a comprehensive list of checks to be carried out, specific to the equipment being inspected. Guidance notes offer additional peace of mind to operatives that they are looking in the right areas for potential faults.

• Provide the ability to add notes or comments alongside each check, a useful option where a minor issue has been spotted that can be rectified at a later date without endangering the user or putting the equipment into unnecessary quarantine. Poorly designed checklists checklists simply offer a basic yes/no option.

• Have consistency of design – providing the same layout and style for all equipment types, allowing operatives to feel comfortable in carrying out their checks. The running order of the checklist should also be set in a logical order specific the equipment being inspected. An alphabetical checklist makes no sense and can delay the inspection, forcing them to walk round in circles or waste time trying to find the next check to be made.

• Offer flexibility to the user – allowing them to decide on th frequency of inspection, dependent upon the findings of their risk assessments.

• Allow you to display the findings along with the date of inspection or next due date of inspection. A checklist is of little use if the only person that knows the findings is the person that carried out the check. Management will want to know that the SEMS has been completed as they walk around the facilities. The ability to highlight and quarantine faulty equipment is also a feature that only the very best SEMS can offer.

• Eradicate back-dating checklists. A simple, generic checklist offers no visual indicator that has been carried out. We know that some checklist systems are left unused until the end of a month when it is due to be handed to management, at which time it is back filled in one go – making the system completely useless.

Without the right features, you can be smart and insist on inspection checklists being completed before equipment use—but still end up with poorly performed inspections.

Inspection checklists are about accountability. When used correctly they can reduce maintenance costs and equipment down-time, whilst improving worker safety. Consider the following scenarios, each of which illustrates the importance of checklists.

• An accident occurs due to faulty equipment, and investigators (and lawyers!) want to see proof that it was caused by operator error rather than equipment failure. They want to see evidence that the equipment was in good working order and had been properly maintained.

• Government inspectors arrive and are blown away when detailed inspection records for each piece of equipment are readily available thanks to a documented audit trail.

• An equipment operator goes through the checklist at the beginning of a shift and discovers a problem that wasn’t previously reported. The operator knows that management has procedures in place to ensure his safety and knows exactly what to do upon finding the fault.

• Some part of the equipment isn’t working right but gets ignored because the equipment is still operating. It gets worse and more costly to fix each time it’s used but no one is accountable for making sure that all of the equipment is working correctly. Eventually a major breakdown occurs at vastly inflated costs to getting a minor fault fixed early!

• The driver of a forklift accidentally collides with a racking bay but does not report it (a worryingly common scenario). The racking structure has buckled and weakened but is overlooked as it is not on the list of equipment checks, the scrape on the forklift has been noted during its daily check however. Several months later the racking collapses, causing a domino effect on other racking bays, demolishing stock, plant and equipment.

An inspection checklist, when used properly, is an assurance that a particular piece of equipment has been inspected. As each item on the checklist is ticked off, the person doing the inspection is verifying that each component of the equipment is in correct working order. It gives a sense of ownership to the person carrying out the checks that they have been entrusted to look after the equipment and that management are taking their safety seriously.

Good to Go Safety delivers on all levels, offering a simple, affordable and highly effective equipment tagging and checklist system. At the end of the day you need something that demonstrates beyond any reasonable doubt that you’re actually checking everything that needs to be checked in compliance with relevant legislation and industry best practice.

If management are seen to be taking equipment maintenance and employee safety seriously, it won’t take long for operatives to buy-in to this newfound philosophy too and before you know it your SEMS will become an integral addition to your organisation.

Subscribe to the Good to Go Safety Newspaper

Read and watch all the latest updates relating to safe equipment management and workplace safety from our new regularly updated newspaper. Click Here to view

Scaffold firm owner ‘put lives at risk’

The owner of a Surrey-based scaffolding firm has been prosecuted after he and an employee were captured on camera balancing on a single rail some nine metres above ground.

The photos of the incident at a three-storey office in Horley on 4 February 2014, taken by a shocked member of the public, were sent to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which investigated. Redhill Magistrates (4 Nov) heard how Jason Hewett, 44, the owner of Crest Scaffolding Services, had put his own life and the lives of two scaffolders in jeopardy by failing to have any fall prevention measures in place.

HSE, which brought the prosecution against Mr Hewett for safety breaches, told the court that one photo clearly depicts two workers balancing on a single pole with no guardrails to prevent them from falling from a dangerous height. Neither of them wore a harness.

A second photo shows two scaffolders working from boards but, once again, there was not one guardrail to be seen and no harnesses were in use to protect the men.

Jason Hewett, of Benhams Drive, Horley, Surrey, was fined £265 and ordered to pay £511 in costs after admitting a breach of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Amanda Huff said:

“Jason Hewett put his own life at risk and the lives of two other workers by carrying out this scaffolding job in a totally unsafe manner. Anyone falling from nine metres would likely be killed and that type of disregard for safety is totally unacceptable.

“Mr Hewett failed to follow basic safety precautions and heed the professional guidance available to scaffolding companies. Where practical when erecting scaffolding, they should work from a fully-boarded scaffold and guardrail. If this is not possible, all scaffolders should wear clipped-on harnesses.”

For further information and advice about working at height, visit http://www.hse.gov.uk/falls.

Notes to Editors:

Photo shows the dangerous work at height by Jason Hewett, who put himself and colleagues at serious risk of falling.

The Health and Safety Executive is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to reduce work-related death, injury and ill health. It does so through research, information and advice; promoting training; new or revised regulations and codes of practice; and working with local authority partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement. www.hse.gov.uk

Regulation 6(3) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 state: “Where work is carried out at height, every employer shall take suitable and sufficient measures to prevent, so far as is reasonably practicable, any person falling a distance liable to cause personal injury.”

Press enquiries

Regional reporters should call the appropriate Regional News Network press office.
4 Nov 2014

Working at height – An idiot’s guide to equipment safety

Falls from height are one of the biggest causes of workplace fatalities and major injuries. On average 45 people die and 3,750 major injuries occur every year in the UK whilst working at height.

The purpose of The Work at Height Regulations 2005 (WAHR) is to prevent death and injury from a fall from height. Work at height means work in any place where, if there were no precautions in place, a person could fall a distance liable to cause personal injury.

You will find excellent advice and guidance in the HSE’s Brief Guide to Working at Height (click here) and we touch on some of the key points below. A good starting point is with the following step-by-step Q&A’s:

There are many equipment types available to enable working at height, the most common being ladders, scaffold towers, podium steps, MEWPs (mobile elevating work platforms) and fixed scaffolding. Regardless of which method of access is chosen, one constant across all of them is the need to ensure the equipment itself is in good condition.

Work equipment, for example scaffolding, needs to be assembled or installed according to the manufacturer’s instructions and in keeping with industry guidelines. Where the safety of the work equipment depends on how it has been installed or assembled, an employer should ensure it is not used until it has been inspected in that position by a competent person.

A competent person is someone who has the necessary skills, experience and knowledge to manage health and safety. Guidance on appointing a competent person can be found here (link to www.hse.gov.uk/competence. )

Any equipment exposed to conditions that may cause it to deteriorate, and result in a dangerous situation, should be inspected at suitable intervals appropriate to the environment and use. Do an inspection every time something happens that may affect the safety or stability of the equipment, eg adverse weather, accidental damage.

You are required to keep a record of any inspection for types of work equipment including: working platforms (any platform used as a place of work or as a means of getting to and from work, eg a gangway) that are fixed (eg a scaffold around a building) or mobile (eg a MEWP or scaffold tower); or a ladder.

Any working platform used for construction work and from which a person could fall more than 2 metres must be inspected:
• after assembly in any position;
• after any event liable to have affected its stability;
• at intervals not exceeding seven days.

Where it is a mobile platform, a new inspection and report is not required every time it is moved to a new location on the same site.

You must also ensure that before you use any equipment, such as a MEWP, which has come from another business or rental company, it is accompanied by an indication (clear to everyone involved) when the last thorough examination has been carried out.

What must employees do?
Employees have general legal duties to take reasonable care of themselves and others who may be affected by their actions, and to co-operate with their employer to enable their health and safety duties and requirements to be complied with.

For an employee, or those working under someone else’s control, the law says they must:
• report any safety hazard they identify to their employer;
• use the equipment and safety devices supplied or given to them properly, in accordance with any training and instructions (unless they think that would be unsafe, in which case they should seek further instructions before continuing).

The need to provide suitable equipment is detailed in The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) for which downloadable information is available here.

PUWER and WAHR tend to work hand-in-hand and Good to Go Safety can help companies comply with both sets of Regulations.

Due to the flexibility of the Good to Go Safety checklists, they allow a competent person to specify the frequency of their checks – whether this be a daily/weekly/monthly check, a 7-day check or after alterations/periods of severe weather. Indeed some equipment may only come out of storage once in a blue moon, at which point a pre-use check can be carried out.

Each checklist is specific to the equipment being used. So whether it be a ladder, tower or MEWP you will follow a step-by-step walk-around to check safety critical components before placing the completed checklist inside a tag on the equipment for everyone to see the findings and current status.

Each completed checklist is created in duplicate to ensure that findings are not only displayed on the equipment but that a record is retained as part of your Safe Equipment Management System (SEMS) which can prove invaluable in the event of an accident investigation. By having evidence of completed equipment checks, documented dates, signatures and findings it shows that you have taken appropriate steps to minimise the potential for equipment failure. More importantly, it might help save someone’s life in the process.

Visit www.goodtogosafety.co.uk for your safe equipment management systems.

To end with we would like to remind companies using ladders for work at height operations that now is a perfect time to put inspection processes in place as the Ladder Association is currently running it’s Ladder Exchange Initiative until the end of December, allowing you to hand in any ‘dodgy’ ladders for a discounted new ladder – visit www.ladderexchange.org.uk for more information.

I would also recommend anyone that works at height or is responsible for those that do so, to watch this video

as Jason Ankler talks candidly about his experience of falling from a ladder and the ramifications it had for him, his family and colleagues. If this story doesn’t bring home the importance of working safely at height then I fear nothing will.

3 Nov 2014

Injury and ill-health statistics highlight workplace dangers

Figures published today show that while Britain continues to be one of the safest places to work in Europe, too many workers are still being injured or made ill by work.

Injury and ill-health statistics released by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) show that an estimated 28.2 million working days were lost due to work related ill health or injury in 2013/14.

As a result, the cost to society from such injuries and new cases of ill health due to current working conditions is an estimated £14.2 billion (2012/13 figures based on 2012 prices), according to the latest annual statistics published by HSE today.

Judith Hackitt, the chair of HSE, says that behind every number is the reality of a real person being killed or suffering injuries or ill health while simply doing their job.

The statistics show that, in 2013/14, there were;
133 fatal injuries – a fall from 150 the previous year.
77,593 other injuries reported under The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR). That equates to 304.6 injuries per 100,000 employees.
An estimated two million people in 2013/14 suffering from an illness they believed was caused or made worse by current or past work.

Judith Hackitt said: “These latest figures remind us what health and safety is really about. We should remind ourselves what these numbers actually mean – the number of times in the last year someone went out to work and either did not return home to their loved ones or came home with life changing injuries.

“The health numbers also demonstrate the scale of harm being done to people’s health while at work, too often leading to premature death."

“Jobsworths using ‘elf n safety as a convenient excuse for all manner of things, and those claiming health and safety is a burden, need to reflect on this. Britain has one of the best health and safety systems in the world, but that is cold comfort to those who have suffered loss or suffering that is so easily avoided with sensible and proportionate risk management."

“We all need to commit to focussing on what really matters – ensuring more people return home from work every day and enjoy long and healthy working lives.”

The industries in which workers are most likely to be injured by their jobs have not changed significantly – with construction (1900 major/specified injuries), agriculture (292 major/specified injuries), manufacturing (3159 major/specified injuries) and waste and recycling (486 major/specified injuries) among the higher risk sectors.

Notes to editors:

The full statistics, including comparisons to previous years, are available online at HSE Statistics
In 2011, the most recent year for which statistics are available across the EU, the standardised rate of work-related fatal injury excluding traffic accidents, was 0.74 per 100,000 workers in GB, the third lowest in the EU.
The Health and Safety Executive is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to prevent death, injury and ill health. It does so through research, information and advice, promoting training, new or revised regulations and codes of practice, and working with local authority partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement. www.hse.gov.uk
In January 2015 the organisation marks 40 years since its creation.

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