Recently released Health and Safety Executive figures, showing that worker deaths were down from 178 fatalities in 2008/09 to 151 in 2009/10, are testament to the work of safety practitioners across the UK

The fact that the UK has consistently held the lowest rates of fatal injuries for the last six years, compared with Germany, France, Spain and Italy, demonstrates the commitment UK industry has placed on moving safety up the corporate agenda. 

However, although the prioritisation of safety is being taken very seriously across the board, we are noticing an increasing trend towards major injuries from lower level falls.

People can be forgiven for thinking that “working at height” relates solely to those in the roofing or scaffolding sector, but according to a report by the QBE Insurance Group, “59% of major injuries occur following a fall from height of less than two metres and 61% of over three-day injuries occur within the service industry”. Typically, these may be falls from ladders, platforms, flat-bed trucks, and so on. 

I am sure everyone would agree that even one fall resulting in a major injury or fatality is one too many. In 2008/09 there were nearly 5,000 as recorded by RIDDOR.

As a supplier of height safety equipment to a wide range of industries, at Capital Safety, we have seen serious commitment from manufacturing, service and construction clients alike to promoting the safety of their workforce. However, there is still work to be done in the fields of training, education and reinforcement. 

So, while a drop in fatalities is to be applauded, the fundamental question is: “What else can we all do to play our part in reducing the thousands of major injuries that occur each year as a result of employees falling from height?”

Daniel Vernuccio, managing director EMEA, Capital Safety Group