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Construction and Falling from Height Claims

01/06/2021

Author: Bengi Karakus

Accidents and Injuries, Hatch Brenner News, Legal Updates

Construction Site

Construction site and falling from height claims is one of the most serious types of injury and the biggest cause of fatalities at work with 29 fatal injuries to workers in 2019/20 being due to falls from a height, accounting for around a quarter of all worker deaths over the year.

Protection of Workers – the Law

The Work at Height Regulations 2005 (WAHR) provides guidance and precautions for implementation in workplaces to prevent death and injury from a fall from height.

Regulation 5 of the WAHR 2005 provides that anyone who works at height, whether they are engaged in the activity, organisation, planning and/or supervision, is required to undertake training to prove they are competent and safe in their work. The employer must ensure that training is provided.

What is Work at Height?

Work at height means work in any place where, if precautions are not taken, a person could fall a distance liable to cause personal injury. You are working at height if you:

  • Work above ground/floor level
  • Could fall from an edge, through an opening or fragile surface
  • Could fall from ground level into an opening in a floor or a hole in the ground

Working at height does not include walking up and down a permanent staircase in a building.

Employee and Employer Responsibility

Employees have general legal duties to take reasonable care of themselves and others who may be affected by their actions. This includes cooperating with their employer to enable their health and safety duties and requirements to be complied with and the laws specifically say that employees must:

  • Report any safety hazard they identify to their employer
  • Use the equipment and safety devices supplied or given to them in accordance with any training and instructions

Similarly, employers have a responsibility to ensure a safe working environment and must ensure that:

  • All work at height is properly planned and organised
  • Those involved in work at height are competent
  • The risk from work at height are assessed, and appropriate work equipment is selected and used
  • The risks of working on or near fragile surfaces are properly managed
  • The equipment used for work at height is properly inspected and maintained

If you cannot avoid working at height in the first place, look to prevent having to work at height by doing as much work as possible from the ground.

If you cannot prevent a fall from occurring, look to minimise the risk. For example, using an existing safe place of work such as a non-fragile roof with a permanent guardrail.

Look at minimising the consequences of the fall such as installation of safety nets and soft-landing systems.

For low risk and short-duration tasks, the use of ladders and stepladders can be a sensible and practical option.

Bringing a claim – what to do following a fall from height at work

Firstly, you should report any accident at work to your employer as soon as possible. You should ensure the incident has been recorded and ask for a copy of the incident report. You should seek medical attention if your injuries require it and keep evidence of any expenses, such as parking or medical receipts.

You may be able to bring a claim for personal injury following a fall from height if you sustained an injury and your employer’s negligence was the cause of the accident. Many employers do not consider and complete a risk assessment as well as proper planning and supervision for jobs that require working at height.

If you have sustained an injury as a result of a fall from a height due to a lack of care on your employer’s behalf, contact us to make a personal injury claim…

Our experienced personal injury team are experienced in handling claims involving breaches of the Work at Height Regulations 2005, involving six and seven-figure settlements for injuries such as spinal fractures and traumatic brain injury. Such cases have included construction sites, working on small redevelopment projects and site assessments on other businesses premises. The circumstances in these cases can vary quite dramatically from falling from improperly footed ladders (still an all too common occurrence) to falling through skylights.

To find out about our no win, no fee basis funding having a look at the funding section on our website.

Read more: Accidents at Work

Read more: What happens if I make a Personal Injury claim against my employer?

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