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Falling from a height is one of the most common workplace injuries according to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
Working at height can sometimes be a necessary feature of some work and is one of the most dangerous parts of any job, not to mention scary and both physically and mentally challenging.
There are many risks involved in those undertaking it. Common causes are falls from ladders and through fragile roofs. In these types of claims, it can be difficult to establish who is responsible for the accident, whether it is an employer or the company responsible for erecting the scaffolding.
Employers should consider whether working at height is necessary or whether the task could be completed at ground level. If the task requires working at height, protective measures should be put into place. Employers should take reasonable steps to reduce the risks and the consequences of any employee or other person from falling.
The Work at Height Regulations 2005 (WaHR) governs work that is carried out at height and provides legislation to provide and implement the minimum safety and health requirements for the use of equipment for working at heights. The WaHR are subordinate regulations to the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
What counts as working at height?
The Work at Height Regulations 2005 define working at height as meaning any work that takes place where a person could fall a distance that can cause personal injury.
“Work at height” means:
(a) Work in any place, including a place at or below ground level;
(b) Obtaining access to or egress from such place while at work, except by a staircase in a permanent workplace,
where, if measures required by these Regulations were not taken, a person could fall a distance liable to cause personal injury;
The HSE website provides further explanation of working at height:
You are working at height if you:
So, no matter whether you are working on a construction site and working on scaffolding, to working in a supermarket and stacking the shelves. If the job requires you to work off the ground, then risk assessments will need to be carried out and the Work at Height Regulations will need to be adhered to.
What should employers do to prevent falls from height?
Legislation states that employers should conduct sufficient risk assessments of the workplace to assure that certain safety measures are in place to protect their employees. The regulations address the many risks that are involved while working at height.
An employer has a duty of care to ensure that their employees are safe whilst at work and protect them from danger as much as is reasonably possible.
On scaffolding platforms, robust scaffolding systems should be implemented, for example, a double guard rail should be in place to prevent you from falling. Depending on the height, safety harnesses should be worn. Restraint lanyards could also be used to prevent the employee from reaching the edge of an area where they’re at risk of falling.
Method statements should also be prepared for every task. This should set out: the risks involved with that particular task, how to perform the task in a safe manner that should prevent injury.
The risk assessments should make sure that:
As previously stated, working at height refers to any work that takes place where a person could fall a distance that can cause personal injury. Anything that is above ground level is classed as working at a height. For example, falling off of some scaffolding, as there are no safety rails.
What are employees’ responsibilities when working at height?
Even though Employers have a duty to ensure that the employees are safe, the employees also have a general legal duty to take reasonable care of their own health and safety, as well as other employees. You must have a sensible, pragmatic approach when working at height to prevent additional risks.
The employee must undergo sufficient training in this area before carrying out any task and make sure that they are competent for the task they will undergo. They must have sufficient skills, knowledge and experience to safely complete the task.
The work undertaken must be pre-planned before starting the job, for example, what tools and material will need to be used, consideration of the weather. If provided, all appropriate PPE must be worn. If any of the PPE or machinery is faulty, this must be reported straight away to the Health and Safety Inspector.
If reasonable steps are not taken to protect your own health and safety and you are involved in an accident, that could have been easily prevented, you may be unable to pursue a claim.
What constitutes as ‘competent’ to work at heights?
People who have been trained should be employed for the job of working at heights. They should have sufficient knowledge, skills and experience to be employed to perform the task. Alternatively, they should work under the supervision of somebody competent to do the task.
If the task is low-risk (for example using ladders for a period of no more than 30 minutes), competent may be receiving instruction on how to use the equipment safely. Training on this nature usually takes place on the job and will not require ‘classroom’ training.
What should I do if I have a fall from height at work?
If you have had a fall from height, the first thing you should do is seek medical attention. Your health is your priority. No matter how minor your injuries seem, adrenalin usually kicks in and you may not know the initial damaged caused.
If you receive first aid at the scene of the incident, we still recommend going to the GP or local hospital. This medical check-up will also serve as evidence of your injuries are the circumstances surrounding the incident.
Once you have received medical treatment, you should report the incident to your employer (if you haven’t already done so). Make sure an accident book entry is recorded correctly, that all the information is correct and that it is signed by the relevant people.
In certain cases, such as loss of consciousness, your accident must be reported in compliance with the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases, and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR). For the purposes of RIDDOR, an accident is a separate identifiable, unintended incident that causes personal injury.
They will need to carry out a full inspection of the incident. It is important to have documented evidence, as this will help prove the accident happened and that the injuries you have sustained are a result of the incident.
You should obtain the names and contact information of any witnesses, or information of anybody who was involved in the accident.
Can I claim for a loved one who has died?
If in the unfortunate event that you have lost a love one due to a workplace accident, you still may be entitled to claim compensation on their behalf. Especially if the deceased had dependents that relied on them.
You may also be able to claim a statutory bereavement award (currently £12,980), which is separate to a claim for compensation. This is available if you’re the spouse, civil partner or parent (if they’re under 18) of the deceased.
How much is my claim worth?
A fall from height will usually result in severe and serious injuries, which will likely mean that you will have to take time off work or pay for medical expenses (i.e. medicine). This could be extremely difficult especially if you have a family to support and are the main course of income.
Adjusting to life after an injury can be tremendously hard, so it is only right that compensation could be awarded to help assist you return to normal life as quickly as possible, back to how they were before your accident and should help assist make plans for your future.
What awards could my compensation include?
General Damages – The cost of the pain and suffering that you have endured. The pain and suffering element of the award compensates the claimant for all past, present and future physical and psychiatric symptoms. The award will be higher, the more severe the injuries and recovery time.
Loss of earnings / future loss of earnings – Depending on the severity of your injuries, you may need to take some time off work to recover. If the injuries puts a stain on your ability to work on the open labour market, this may also be claimed.
Medication / travel costs – If you have kept the receipts, you will be able to claim for any medications costs and travel expenses as a result of the incident. For example, if you have had to travel to the hospital for a number of appointments, you may be able to claim the cost of petrol money as well as car parking tickets.
Help from Family members – Depending on the severity of your injuries, you may need assistance from family and friends. You may be able to claim compensation for the care afforded to you.
Will I have to go to court for a fall from height compensation claim?
Falls from height injuries can sometimes be incredibly serious, due to this, it is possible that the claim will end up in court. Having said that, most claims will settle before court proceedings are issued. In the event that court proceedings are issued, it is still likely that the claim will settle before a hearing date.
What is the time limit of starting a claim?
Remember, legal proceedings must be commenced within 3 years from the date of your accident. Failure to do this may result in your claim being time-barred and you may not be able to make a claim for compensation.
If a love one has deceased, the time limit for bringing a claim is 3 years from the date of death.
Why choose Oakwood Solicitors Ltd to escalate my claim?
We have years of experience helping clients following these types of accidents and could help you successfully make a claim on a no-win, no-fee basis. This means that if your claim is not successful, you will have nothing to pay. We want to reassure you that there are no financial risks in making your claim.
WHAT TO DO NEXT
Get in touch today for a free initial consultation regarding your work at height accident claim. Choose one of the methods on the right-hand side of this page, or call us on 0113 200 9787 to find out how we can help.