06 January 2020 | Ken Diable
The culture of working at heights needs to change, says Ken Diable.
According to the latest HSE report, falls from height continue to be Britain's biggest workplace killer.
Almost half the 147 fatal injuries in 2018/2019 resulted from falls from height, following a 14 per cent rise in deaths between 2016/17 and 2017/18.
Despite the fall protection equipment available to prevent these deaths, there is still a lack of education and understanding of the dangers of working at height.
During our 10 years in the industry, we've found that what most needs to change is the culture of working at height, especially in high-risk industries such as agriculture and construction.
Reaching these audiences is notoriously tough and the HSE could work more closely with suppliers, charities and unions to come up with creative solutions.
Earlier this year the All-Party Parliamentary Group's report on working at height put forward recommendations for preventative action. In response, we called for:
- Work-at-height equipment to be a legal requirement on all new buildings and redevelopment projects - with a minimum standard set in building regulations;
- RIDDOR statistics to be accessible online for firms in high-risk industries, alongside an accident statistic certification scheme from RIDDOR;
- HSE to monitor and report on the safety performance of contractors in high-risk industries; and
- Tax relief for businesses investing in work-at-height equipment to protect their personnel, similar to the land remediation relief in the asbestos industry.
In the past year our industry has seen an upsurge in suppliers testing fall protection and façade access equipment at unrealistic speeds, claiming to have carried out fully compliant testing in unachievable time frames. While this provides a cheap alternative in the short term, cheap doesn't equate to good value when lives are at risk.
Ken Diable is managing director and founder of Heightsafe