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Riwal UK welcomes MPs’ bid to reduce falls from height

APPG Report
The Working at Height, Staying Alive report (PDF)

Riwal UK Country Manager Mick Ledden has welcomed a report by a Parliamentary group of MPs which analyses falls from height and makes recommendations to improve working at height safety.

The report – Working at Height, Staying Alive – makes six specific recommendations, including enhanced reporting and data collection about falls from height and near miss incidents.


Mick Ledden said: “It is very good to see MPs taking such a close look at falls from height. I am sure this report will be looked at closely by leaders in industries that rely on safe working at height.

“The powered access community is committed to providing safer ways to work at height. We all agree that any incident on site that leads to injury is one too many.

“At Riwal, we are always willing to share expertise and advise customers and industry leaders on how to more proactively and productively use powered access to reduce the risk of falls during working at height tasks.

“I am also pleased to note that key recommendations made by the MPs already form a core part of Riwal UK’s business and innovation strategy for safe working at height.”


Most common cause of death

The report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Working at Height, said more than a million UK businesses and 10 million workers were estimated to need to carry out work involving some form of work at height every year. 

Falls from height made up 18 per cent of all workplace deaths in 2018, making it the most common cause of workplace death in the UK.

There were 35 fall-from-height fatalities in 2018 and 186 over the past five years. The second most common cause of death at work was being struck by a moving vehicle. Twenty-six workers were killed in that way in 2018.


Ladders most common risk factor for falls in food industry

The report notes there were several key reasons for workplace falls from height, including improperly used equipment, missing or faulty guard rails, lack of fall arrest systems and incomplete risk assessments.

In the food industry, falls from ladders were most common causes of falls. 

Riwal Rental and Fleet Manager Gary Specht said: “In this day and age, in most commercial and industrial environments, there is almost no need to use a ladder.

“There are a number of much safer alternatives including low-level personnel masts and scissor lifts, either self-propelled or push-arounds.

“These low-level platforms are quick and easy to use and come in a variety of maximum working heights, usually from 4m to around 12m.”


Recommendations to support strong safety culture

The MPs gathered evidence from experts from across industries where working at height is most common. Those experts stated that working culture plays a crucial role in whether a fall will occur.

Complacency about regularly performed tasks and a belief that ‘it will never happen to me’ increased the risk of falls happening, the report concluded.

The MPs noted that the stronger the safety culture within a company, the safer the place of work and the less likely it was that workers would experience a fall from height.

It also voiced a concern that fear of prosecution could be causing the under-reporting of workplace falls.

In a series of recommendations, they stated that a crucial way to enhance a safety strong safety culture was to encourage greater reporting and analysis of near miss incidents, those behaviours that could, if not challenged, cause a potentially fatal incident.


Riwal strengthens near miss reporting

Riwal SHEQ Coordinator Calum Patterson backed the report’s findings on near miss reporting.

He said: “Industry-led safety research shows that high levels of near miss reporting actually reduces the overall number of major and minor accidents.

“At Riwal, we have now developed a phone app, called MissAPP, for reporting near misses in real time. We expect this to help us identify any weaknesses in operational procedures that could have serious consequences.”

Other recommendations in the Working at Height, Staying Alive report include:

  • The introduction of enhanced reporting without an additional burden, through RIDDOR, which at a minimum, records the scale of a fall, the method used and the circumstances of the fall.
  • The appointment of an independent body that allows confidential, enhanced and digital reporting of all near misses and accidents that do not qualify for RIDDOR reporting. The data collected by this independent body will be shared with government and industry to inform health and safety policy.
  • An equivalent system to Scotland’s Fatal Accident Inquiry process to be extended to the rest of the UK.

The Working at Height, Staying Alive report is available here.