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Working at heights is inherently risky as you are more vulnerable if you fall from a height, as your injuries are likely to be more significant than a fall at ground level.

It is also risky for other workers below, as things dropped from a height can cause serious injury to a person below.

Common risks

Falls from ladders are particularly common on construction sites, often due to a worker over reaching or trying to carry out heavy tasks that should be carried out using scaffolding. Carelessness in setting up a ladder is also a major factor. 

Safety gear such as a hard hat and harness should always be worn when working at significant heights. Scaffolding should always be installed by a licensed scaffolder. Site supervisors should always ensure that tasks are carried out using the appropriate equipment and shortcuts should be avoided.

Undertake a risk assessment

If a task is to be undertaken that entails a risk of a worker falling more than 2 meters, the employer must undertake a risk assessment of that task. The employer has a duty to eliminate or reduce as far as reasonably practicable the risk of a fall.

Things to be considered when assessing the risk of a fall include:

  • The area in which the task is to be undertaken
  • Whether there are any surrounding power lines or other hazards
  • Weather conditions, in particular wind or rain
  • The expected duration of the task
  • Whether the task involves holding heavy equipment which requires two hands
  • Whether the task involves the use of power tools
  • Whether others will be working or passing below

What if I don't feel safe? 

If you do not feel safe working in a particular situation, you should speak to your manager. If you do not feel that your concerns are dealt with appropriately, then you should report your concerns and your manager to your trade union representative.

If you have suffered an injury due to a fall at work or been injured as a result of someone else working from a height, you may be entitled to compensation. Get in touch with us now for advice about making a claim, as strict time limits apply.