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Westmorland Gazette: 'Danger Signs for Fells': warning signs for mountaineers and climbers - Ian Greenwood, HSE's Policy Team, Falls from Height responds

The Editor
The Westmorland Gazette

3rd June 2004

Dear Sir

Your recent article Danger signs for fells is unbalanced and misleading. The proposed Work at Height Regulations would not, as opponents claim, "force mountaineering and climbing firms leading groups of the public to put signs on rock faces and fells warning of steep drops or unstable or slippery surfaces". Nor would they "increase the danger of certain climbing manoeuvres by requiring two ropes". Falls from height are one of the most significant causes of injury at work. The perpetuation of such rumours undermines the serious purpose of these Regulations, which are designed to reduce the excessive number of workplace deaths and major injuries due to falls from height in Great Britain (49 fatalities and more than 3000 major injuries in 2002/03 alone).

The article does not explain that the Health and Safety Executive has discussed the proposed Regulations extensively with representatives of the outdoor activities sector. A joint paper and press statement was issued in March and is published on the HSE website (http://www.hse.gov.uk/work-at-height/wahr.htm.)

Sensible health and safety is about managing risks, not eliminating them. HSE recognises that the adventure activity sector has a very good safety record, exemplary safety standards and guidance. If those who work in the industry adhere to these standards they will have no problems fulfilling the requirements of the draft Work at Height Regulations.

Yours faithfully

Ian Greenwood
Policy Team - Falls from Height
Health and Safety Executive

Updated 2014-05-16