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Construction Inspections Find Rise in Unsafe Work at Height

Posted on August 3, 2018

The Building Safety Group (BSG), has reported a 13% rise in the number of Work at Height safety breaches recorded on construction sites. The increase is based on 10,000 site inspections conducted during the first 6 months of 2018, comparing Q1 with Q2.

BSG’s figure is also a reflection of the increase in fatalities resulting from workers falling from height. Statistics published by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) show there were 35 falls from height related deaths in 2017/18, up 40% compared to the previous year.

Falls through fragile surfaces, particularly fibre-cement roofs and roof lights account for the majority of fall from height fatal injuries in the construction industry. Workers undertaking roof work and building maintenance can die or suffer life-changing injuries leaving them permanently disabled when they fall through fragile surfaces or unprotected edges such as exposed roof light openings.

The figures are based on around 10,000 building site inspections carried out by the construction safety body between January and June this year.

They show there were 1,064 work at height and edge protection failings in the first three months of 2018, compared with 1,200 in the second quarter.

The total number of failings logged for the whole of 2017 was 4,511, down from 4,568 recorded in 2016.

The findings reflect the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) latest statistics on workplace fatalities, which revealed that the total deaths from falls from height leapt back up in 2016-17 to stand at 35, in line with the five year average of 37, after a fall to 27 in the previous 12 months. Almost a quarter of the 144 people killed at work in the 12 months to the end of March fell from height.

In the construction sector, almost half (49%) of the 196 fatal injuries in the five years to 2016-17 were falls from a height.

The figures also show that 5,055 construction workers sustained non-fatal injuries in 2016-17 and 18% of these were also attributed to falls from height. The most common causes of accidents in the sector were slips, trips and falls (24%) and handling, lifting and carrying (21%).

BSG said falls through fragile surfaces, particularly fibre-cement roofs and roof lights, account for most of all fall-from-height fatal injuries in the construction industry.

Paul Kimpton, BSG’s managing director, said: “Employers are responsible for ensuring that fall protection systems for working at height are regularly inspected, particularly when working in hazardous environments.”

Source: IOSH

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