It may seem obvious but working at height carries an enormous risk that if anything goes wrong an worker could be seriously injured. Any height will, by the operation of the physical laws of gravity, exacerbate the resulting injury sustained. This being so obvious it is often relatively easy to succeed in a claim for compensation arising as a result of a fall from height at work.
This is also recognised in the law by the introduction of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 which enhanced existing law to provide further protection for employees working at height by placing statutory duties on employers to reduce the risk of injury to workers due to falling from height. The salient part of the legislation is :-
Avoidance of risks from work at height
This sectionnoteType=Explanatory Memorandum has no associated
6.—(1) In identifying the measures required by this regulation, every employer shall take account of a risk assessment under regulation 3 of the Management Regulations.
(2) Every employer shall ensure that work is not carried out at height where it is reasonably practicable to carry out the work safely otherwise than at height.
(3) Where work is carried out at height, every employer shall take suitable and sufficient measures to prevent, so far as is reasonably practicable, any person falling a distance liable to cause personal injury.
(4) The measures required by paragraph (3) shall include—
(a) his ensuring that the work is carried out—
(i) from an existing place of work; or
(ii) (in the case of obtaining access or egress) using an existing means,
which complies with Schedule 1, where it is reasonably practicable to carry it out safely and under appropriate ergonomic conditions; and
(b)where it is not reasonably practicable for the work to be carried out in accordance with sub-paragraph (a), his providing sufficient work equipment for preventing, so far as is reasonably practicable, a fall occurring.
(5) Where the measures taken under paragraph (4) do not eliminate the risk of a fall occurring, every employer shall—
(a) so far as is reasonably practicable, provide sufficient work equipment to minimise—
(i) the distance and consequences; or
(ii )where it is not reasonably practicable to minimise the distance, the consequences,
of a fall; and
(b) without prejudice to the generality of paragraph (3), provide such additional training and instruction or take other additional suitable and sufficient measures to prevent, so far as is reasonably practicable, any person falling a distance liable to cause personal injury.
This section is perhaps a little difficult to follow but this imposes a very high duty upon every employer to reduce the risk of injury to the lowest reasonable level or to introduce protective or preventative equipment to help reduce the risk of injury to workers.
Despite some sensationalist media outlets crying “compensation culture” at every opportunity, falls from height at work can and should be avoided by every employer. If a fall happens then an employee should be able to claim compensation for the resulting injuries.
The conservative Government have however tried to block the rights of workers seeking compensation by removing the right for an injured worker to rely upon a breach of the above regulations as proof of his employer’s negligence. Despite this we at Lampkin & Co are still fighting and succeeding in cases where serious injuries have been sustained by innocent workers falling from height.