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Dangerous work at height

Hi-vis jackets and hard hats will not be much use if these two slip off the roof.

Hi-vis jackets and hard hats will not be much use if these two slip off the roof.

According to HSE inspectors, more enforcement action is taken to tackle dangerous work at height than any other risk. One in every 12 recordable injuries in Britain’s workplaces are as a result of a fall. Low and high falls kill and seriously injure hundreds of people and account for around 700,000 working days being lost each year. Time and again inspectors see people working on roofs or scaffolding without appropriate safeguards, such as edge protection, fall prevention equipment or harnesses. Falls from height have long been the most common cause of workplace fatalities.

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Christine Walton’s husband Peter was killed after falling from unsafe scaffolding at a site in Burnley in 2006 when an unsecured board gave way.

The 55-year-old died five weeks later in hospital. Christine from Anchorsholme, near Blackpool, said: “Peter trusted that the scaffolding had been erected safely when he climbed up it, but it wasn’t. He died because the companies responsible for his safety didn’t do their jobs properly. “Health and safety should be at the forefront of employers’ minds in the construction industry. The whole family miss him terribly and it makes it worse knowing that it was so avoidable.”

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Father-of-two, Jason Anker, 43, was paralysed at the age of 24 while working for a small roofing firm in the Midlands. He was climbing down a ladder after carrying out repairs to a flat roof when the ladder slipped, and he fell ten feet to the ground below.

He now speaks to businesses all around Britain, to ask that others don’t go through what he did.

He says: “The job had overrun which meant risks were taken and the ladder I used wasn’t tied to the building. The ladder slipped and I remember lying on the ground not feeling my legs. When doctors told me I’d never walk again my whole world caved in.

“I think there’s a temptation for small construction firms to take risks if they’ve got a deadline to meet but I tell them what happened to me could happen to their employees also.”

Updated: 2014-07-16