MPs begin inquiry into effectiveness of working at height rules
Construction firms and trade bodies are being urged to contribute to a new inquiry which is looking for a solution for the current issues and dangers that come with working at height.
An all-party parliamentary group (APPG) is seeking responses from within the construction industry on a number of questions that revolve around working at height. This is being supported by two trade bodies: The Prefabricated Access Supplier’s and Manufacturers’ Association (PASMA) which is an international trade body representing those working with mobile access towers. The second trade body is the Access Industry Forum (AIF), which works with 11-member organisations including PASMA.
The parliamentary group, who is chaired by MP Alison Thewliss, will produce a report with recommendations on how the frequency of serious injuries and fatalities among those working at height, can be reduced and whether the existing Work at Height Regulations protect workers sufficiently.
Although fatal injuries in the workplace are on a steady decline, 18% of those who died in 2016/2017 were killed as a result of falling from height according to HSE statistics.
Health and Safety law expert Alex Hudson of Pinsent Masons, said that working at height has many known risks and therefore, firms are at risk of serious consequences if any regulations are breached. He said:
“While working at height may be a bigger concern for some sectors than others – for example, falls from height are the most common cause of fatal injuries in the construction and manufacturing industries – all sectors will be able to appreciate that even one fatal incident is one too many”
In 2016/17, 79 firms and individuals were prosecuted under the 2005 Working at Height Regulations, with an average fine of over £80,000 per conviction. Five individuals also received immediate custodial sentences as a result of breaching said regulations.
As part of its inquiry, the APPG has set out nine questions on which it would like input from the industry and trade bodies. It has asked for submission on the main reasons for falls, examples of good practice, the role to be played by customers and end users in ensuring safe work at height and whether there are any measures that should be a part of renewed regulations.
The group is also keen to hear views of the effectiveness of the existing regulations and whether the reporting of accidents should be changed to allow for better understanding of why accidents happen. All responses should be submitted by 2nd March 2018.