Step 1 - Incidents & Causes

Building and Plant Maintenance Case Study - First Line Digital

First Line Digital, the UK’s largest independent installer of digital terrestrial and satellite equipment, recognised it could be doing more to tackle falls, especially as engineers were installing aerials and dishes at a variety of heights from portable leaning ladders and roof ladders.

Between June 2003 and July 2004 the company recorded 37 falls from height, four of which were serious enough to be reported to HSE.

After receiving recommendations from HSE, First Line Digital implemented a number of systems to keep its engineers safe and, year on year, it has improved training to ensure that all members of staff are fully equipped to understand and use its equipment correctly.

Measures which they chose to take included making sure ladders were secured using an eyebolt and ratchet strap and equipping appropriately trained staff with specialist kit such as a flexible safety line which can be attached to the secured ladder. Trained workers now wear a fall arrest harness that can be attached to the line and the ladder, this means that the ladder cannot slip during use and even if the engineer slips and falls from the ladder, the fall will be arrested.

James Malone, First Line Digital health and safety officer, said: “Health and safety is a priority for us and this is demonstrated through the dramatic reduction we’ve seen in preventable incidents. Not only do we make sure that the right equipment is in place for all our engineers, but the way we deliver training and conduct random audits ensures that our staff members take their safety very seriously.”

Since First Line Digital started work with HSE it has implemented its own rigorous testing by using the guidance on the HSE website. The results have been dramatic. Since 2004 to date, First Line Digital has recorded 12 falls from height with five identified as serious, compared to the four serious falls from height in just one year from 2003-2004.

Step 2 - Avoiding Accidents

Climbing on furniture

Grabbing a chair to reach something at a height can be tempting, especially when you’re in a rush. Stop and think, not using the correct access equipment can cause a fall with very serious consequences.

So, if you have to work at height, always use the correct access equipment for the job.

Avoiding work at a height

If you need to work at height, make sure you use the correct access equipment. Alternatively, there may be ways to do the same job at ground level. For example, if you need to clean windows, think about using a water fed extension pole to reach those windows higher up.

Know how to use equipment

Keeping your staff safe is part of your job, it’s not hard and we have all the guidance you need on our site. If your staff need to work at a height, make sure they know how to use the access equipment correctly or, if they are still being trained, are supervised by someone who does.

Low height can be high risk

It’s not just high falls you need to be wary of, after all, any fall can cause serious injury. In fact, nearly two-thirds of all falls from height that result in major injury are the result of a low fall.

Maintaining plant or machines

Working with machinery can be hazardous, so always make sure you’re safe when you’re working at height. Slips, trips and falls into machinery can cause devastating injuries. Plan ahead and make sure you’re always safe.

Minor roof work

Even small roof repairs need proper planning. Everyone involved needs the right skills and knowledge to perform it safely.


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