According to the Health and Safety Authority of Ireland, falls from height are a significant cause of workplace injuries and fatalities – between 2007 and 2016 there were 18 fatalities due to falls from height.
Working at height encompasses a wide range of activities including:
- working on a ladder, stepladder or kick stool;
- working at ground level close to a pit;
- working on the back of lorry (e.g. loading or unloading);
- working on top of a tank;
- working on trestles or staging;
- working on a scaffold or a hoist; or
- working on a flat roof.
Other hazards at height include fragile roofing materials that can’t support weight where the risk of falling through may be high. Slippery roof surfaces may also increase risk of falling.
According to Part 4 of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations 2007 as amended by the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) (Amendment) Regulations 2007, employers are obliged to reduce deaths and injuries at work caused by falls from height by taking reasonable precautions to reduce risks. An employer is under a duty to take all reasonable steps to prevent their employees falling from any distance that could cause an injury. Working at height must only be undertaken where necessary. An employer must also use equipment that prevents falls if working at height can’t be avoided. Where the risk can’t be avoided, safety equipment must be used to minimise the distance and the severity of injury in the event of a fall. Proper planning must be performed, the works must be properly organised, supervised and carried out. A weather assessment must also be carried out, equipment must be inspected and loose objects must be secured. Significantly, an employer will be under a duty to carry out a risk assessment and take steps to reduce harm. Depending on the height and the stability of the surfaces, the burden upon an employer may be light or significant and will depend on a number of factors. They will not be expected to make activities at height completely risk free but will be held liable where accidents are found to have been avoidable by proper planning and use of safety equipment.
Workplace Accident Solicitors Dublin, Ireland
Where you’ve been injured as a result of suspected failures in your employer’s response to working at height, legal advice is available. Should you find yourself in this unexpected and unpleasant situation you may suffer a long and painful recovery potentially with extensive rehabilitation. You may find yourself unable to work with significant financial problems. Sherwin O’Riordan can undertake a detailed consultation with you and perform an in-depth investigation of the facts of your case. Expert opinion in the form of engineers’ reports may be obtained to pinpoint the issues of fault. Sherwin O’Riordan can then give you cogent advice on how best to proceed.