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Falls from ladders are among the most common accidents of this type, either because the ladder has not been properly secured or a worker needs to use hand tools or carry materials.
Falls through fragile or damaged roofs and falls from scaffolding are also commonplace on building or construction sites but any significant drop with no safety barrier can be potentially hazardous.
Under the regulations, employers must take reasonably practicable steps to prevent injury by eliminating working at height if possible. This duty applies to employers, self-employed and any person who controls the work of others.
If working at height is unavoidable, employers must make sure their employees are properly trained to do so and any equipment is inspected and properly maintained. A risk assessment must be carried out and continued on an ongoing basis. If the firm has five or more employees the results of such a risk assessment must be in writing.
If your employer has breached their specific duty of care in connection with working at height, should you suffer a fall from height and be injured you may be able to make a personal injury claim. The relative of a person who has died as a result of falling from height can also seek legal redress.
How do I make a claim about a fall from height
If you suffer a fall from height at work and the accident was not your fault, you may be able to make a claim against whoever breached their duty to prevent the risk of such accidents.
There are strict time limits in place to make any claim relating to falls from a height, but before you talk to a solicitor you should get checked out by your GP.
Make sure the accident and any injuries are recorded in the accident book at work and get names and addresses of anyone who witnessed your fall from a height. If your fall from height resulted from a major incident, such as the collapse of scaffolding, causing serious injuries that left you unable to work for more than three days, your employer has a duty to report the incident to the Health & Safety Executive (HSE).
As with all personal injury claims, you would need to prove that your injury was caused as a result of the negligence of another party. Although recent changes to law have shifted the burden of proving that it was indeed the employer who was negligent onto the victim themselves, such proof need still only be 'on the balance of probabilities'.
Do not be put off seeking legal advice because of this greater need to prove your case or concerns about your future employment prospects if you do make a claim. The law protects those who take legal action and an employer cannot dismiss or disadvantage you simply for taking justified legal action.
if I have a case about a fall from height
All employers have a duty to protect their employees from workplace accidents and injuries and in particular must do all that is reasonably practical to prevent injuries to any employee (including self-employed sub-contractors) working at height.
Ideally, employers shouldn’t ask anyone to work at heights, but if that is unavoidable it is critical that a risk assessment is carried out before work is started and that the risk assessment process continues and is repeated as needed throughout the job.
Ladders should be secured following HSE guidelines and ideally safer, more stable, equipment like scissor lifts or cherry pickers should be used. If the risk of falling from height cannot be completely eliminated, equipment like safety harnesses should be used to reduce the chance of serious injury.
Employers must also make sure that employees are properly trained for working at height, that all of the equipment they are provided with is inspected regularly and properly maintained and that the working procedures are reviewed according to the weather conditions.
If you can demonstrate that an employer failed in any of these duties, especially if they did not carry out a suitable risk assessment prior to the work, they will be in breach of section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. If that is the case, should you suffer a fall and be injured you will be able to make a successful personal injury claim.
more about falls from height
Falls from height account for 29% of all reported industrial injuries and remain the most common cause of death in the workplace. Agriculture, forestry, arboriculture (tree surgery) and the construction industry are the sectors where falls most frequently occur.
Employers have a duty of care under general health and safety legislation but equally every employee has a duty to look after their own health and safety at work by following all the health and safety policies put in place by their employer and using safety equipment provided.
There are some specific requirements contained in the Work at Height Regulations 2005. More general health and safety law such as the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 also include the requirement that all areas where people could fall from a height are properly guarded or covered.
Staff should only work on a ladder for a short time (preferably under 30 minutes) and wear a tool belt or holster to carry any tools leaving both hands free for climbing up and down safely. Extra precautions should be taken on or near any fragile surfaces.
Employers and those in control of any work at height must make sure that work is properly planned, supervised and carried out by competent people and that any risk is assessed. The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) gives guidance in the form of a leaflet called Working at height: a brief guide to help companies comply with the law.
£70,000 pay out for a fall from height
Our client was a self-employed carpenter working on a construction site in Warwick.
On the day of the accident our client was working at height, but as he put his hand back on the ladder, suddenly and without warning the ladder moved.Read how Shoosmiths helped our client secure the compensation they deserved after their fall here.
Kathy was replacing stock and putting items back in warehouse shelving from the shop floor. While she was coming back down a ladder after stacking stock, the sensor-controlled warehouse lighting suddenly went out when it should have stayed on. Kathy missed her footing on the ladder and fell, injuring her shoulder.
Read the full story from Kathy's fall from height case here.
I deal with civil litigation for individuals whose claims involve complex liability issues as well as leading a team of lawyers within our serious injuries unit who deal with high value personal injury litigation.View full profile
Sharine is an award-winning lawyer in the personal injury department, acting on behalf of claimants and their families through a wide range of cases including stress at work, workplace accidents, illness and disease claims, asbestos related claims, psychiatric illness/PTSD and military claims.View full profile
"They [Shoosmiths] are a great team and back you up and help you all the way."
Kathy Emery, a personal injury client
We have particular expertise in falls from height claims. Our specialist lawyers will be happy to talk you through the process in plain English and answer any questions or queries you may have.Why Shoosmiths