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Why Avoiding Work at Height Training Obligations is a Big Mistake

Jun 18, 2018 | 0 comments

When it comes to the hierarchy of accidents in the workplace, working at height has the ignominy of consistently ranking as the number one cause. Over recent years concerted efforts have been made to address this, but it remains a major issue and one which only training across the board, for employees and managers alike can address.

The two major accreditors of working at height training in the UK are PASMA and IPAF, both industry standard and responsible for overseeing a wide range of exceptional training courses in the UK.

JW Simpkin Ltd exemplify the vast spectrum of industries that needs working at height training. They are fire protection specialists who ensure that their employees are trained on courses provided by both PASMA and IPAF in order to meet site safety measures when delivering their services of fire protective boarding and intumescent painting of structural steelwork.

In terms of the kinds of businesses that need to ensure that their employees and managers are trained in safe working at height, it’s a case of how long is a piece of string. However, the industries most at risk tend to be the building trade, telecommunications, roadwork operations, decorating and window cleaning and warehouse operations. Of course there are multiple other industries that are affected. There are training courses for managers that help them understand the risks of a particular site in particular conditions and how to plan to make sure best practice is adhered to. In some ways this is just as important as ensuring those actually up on a big cherry picker are fully trained.

Ensuring that employees are fully trained is inarguably the first step towards risk mitigation. You can give everyone the top of the line Personal Protective Equipment, but if they don’t understand when conditions make it too risky to even attempt working at height, such items can be utterly useless. Before looking at all of the more specific and in some ways selfish reasons why training is important it is vital to bear in mind that according to the Health and Safety Work Act of 1974, all employers have a duty of care to ensure all employees and visitors to their premises are kept safe.

It may seem blindingly obvious, but the better trained employees are in safety procedure, the easier it is for them to focus on their jobs and become more productive. Jobs will take up less time and become more streamlined. While the initial outlay for training programmes may seem costly, employers can reap the rewards in many ways. In fact, money can be saved in the long run. Imagine the legal fees, reputational damage and fines that could be incurred should an employer be found to be at fault or negligent after a fatal accident? Yes, there should be a moral obligation, but even the hardest of business noses should appreciate the potentially damaging financial implications. It is also worth noting that contracts are starting to be withheld from under-trained organisations as it is not worth the risk of any negative publicity an accident could bring.

Finally, everyone wants to work in a happy working environment and studies show that when employees are confident in their safety and ability to adapt to different working conditions they are much happier in their roles, leading once again to better productivity and morale.

call us now:

0344 693 3303

call us now:

0344 693 3303

Eagle Platforms Ltd
Ryton Road, Anston
Sheffield, S25 4DL

Registered in UK & Wales 07665934

Eagle Platforms Ltd
Ryton Road, Anston
Sheffield, S25 4DL

Registered in UK & Wales

Working at height is responsible for more accidents in the workplace than any other single cause and as such has the potential to lead to an inordinate amount of employees unable to work, poor morale among employees, court cases and severe fines for failing to comply with strict government protocol.

Take a look at the data from 2015/16, in terms of distribution of causes of fatal incidents in the workplace:

Falls from height: 37

Struck by moving vehicle: 27

Struck by moving object:  15

Trapped by overturning:   13

Contact with machinery:  9

Drowning or asphyxiation: 8

In May a principal contractor, main contractor and subcontractor were ordered pay fines amounting to £526,500 because an employee fell through a fragile roof light while working at Portsmouth’s flagship leisure centre, falling 4 metres. This came after a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation came to the conclusion that the three organisations involved had failed to plan and mitigate against the risks involved in working at height.

Had they done things properly – in other words, had everyone throughout the various levels of employment received the relevant training – then they would have known that when planning a job involving working at height it is vital to analyse:

•           The exact height from which a potential fall could happen.

•           The risk of being hit, or hitting others with falling objects.

•           Any hazards below that could worsen the impact of a fall.

•           The risks involved with any MEWPs (Mobile Elevated Work Platforms) being used.

Jobs involving working at height must be planned by those who have been trained in working at height for managers (MEWP for Managers) and the actual physical work should be carried out by employees who have kept their work at height training, accredited by industry leaders such as IPAF fully up to date. Work at height training teaches us that working at height should always be a last resort, but when it is necessary all possible eventualities should be carefully looked at and a system of prevention put in place that could involve job-specific personal protective equipment such as harnesses or fall arrest cables, while guard railings on MEWPs (Mobile Elevating Work Platforms) should be considered.

In addition to the legal, moral and ethical reasons for ensuring that employees at all level are suitably trained in working at height there is also a sound financial reason for making sure your company or organisation is kept fully compliant. Training can seem an expensive exercise, but when you consider that failing to ensure that the company given a contract has kept up to date with health and safety training in working at height has as recently as May 2018 seen fines dished out to those involved in contracting, it should lead to more contracts coming the way of fully compliant businesses. In addition you will cut down-time, employee sickness, damaging fines, legal battles and boost staff morale.

All of these factors can actually serve to increase revenue. Now is the time to ensure that no short cuts are taken when it comes to IPAF work at height training.