Every day, our hospitals are dealing with numerous cases of people who have fallen from a considerable height. It is the biggest killer in our workplaces and the figures show that something needs to be done, and it needs to happen soon.
Over 700,000 working days are lost as a result of these accidents. We need to take a closer look at why this incredibly high statistic is still apparent in this health and safety conscious day and age.
Why do we work at height?
The simple solution to this tragic dilemma would be to ban people from working at a dangerous height, but that is never going to happen. Due to the increase in population and the high demand for multi-storey offices, more and more large buildings are being built. No matter how far our technology has advanced, there is still a high demand for people to carry out physical work in extremely elevated positions.
Working from height can mean being several hundred feet in the air, or simply working from a six foot ladder. If you should lose your footing and slip, the results can range from a mild injury, to certain death. If your workplace uses a scaffolding system, even workers at ground level can be seriously injured, or worse, by falling equipment. As well as constructing new buildings, people need to work from height when maintaining or repairing damaged structures. When you see a tall building being erected or repaired, you may notice the large area below that has been cordoned off. This is in place to protect passers-by from the possibility of any type of falling debris.
Health and Safety
Health and Safety has a massive part to play in every aspect of our working lives, so just imagine how much thought and effort is given to working at height. There is an incredible amount of precautionary and preventative action undertaken for each activity at height and quite rightly the number one priority has to be how to avoid these types of accidents. As well as the headwear and correct clothing, workers need to take extreme care with each and every bodily movement. When you see these individuals working hundreds of feet above street level, spare a thought for the danger they face each and every day. The gangplanks they have to walk across are only a few feet wide, even a slip could mean instant death. Before construction workers are allowed to work in these conditions, they are required to complete several Health and Safety modules. This responsibility is owned by the employer, as is the full installation of the correct safety equipment onsite.
Lets make it safer
If Health and Safety standards are met, and the full risk assessment has been adhered to, why do so many people still become injured whilst working at height? It may be due to the fact that so many workers are placed in this precarious position, and only a tiny percentage is enough to make such an alarming statistic. But surely our technology can help to further reduce this shocking reality? When you look at the way we manufacture heavy equipment, including cars, we are relying more and more on robotic engineering to speed the processes up. The incredible ingenuity that has lent itself to manufacturing can surely be adapted to erecting and maintaining manmade structures. Perhaps the financial constraints may be one reason why labourers are still being used for carrying out certain tasks at these potentially fatal working conditions.
So it seems, despite the Health and Safety regulations and the plethora of safety equipment being employed on these sites, man is still vulnerable to serious injury and death from falling. We can only hope that in the near future, some brave soul decides to care less about profit and more about humanity and finds a better solution to this all too common tragedy.