Height Hazards

Safety bulletin outlining the precautions to be taken to avoid accidents when working at height 



                                 Safety Alert



Ref No 




Fall Causes Fracture



Distribution: Work Place notice boards



Recently, a contract welder working on a site-installation fell 1 metre from a stepladder, sustaining a severe fracture to his right leg. The fracture required pinning, an eight-day stay in Hospital and caused considerable pain. The Hospital have indicated that it will be three-months before the pins and cast can be removed, and then there will be a period of physiotherapy before he can make a full return to work.


The accident occurred whilst the welder was taking a measurement. He had obtained a stepladder, leant it against the packaged unit and footed it against a bund wall. The steps could not be opened up because of space restrictions. However, they were in good condition and an appropriate choice of access for this short-term application. On his way down the ladder after taking the measurement, he purposely put his left foot out onto an adjacent horizontal pipe, then, without looking, went to put his right foot out onto the same pipe, but unfortunately, the pipe stopped short, therefore, his right foot did not land on anything, this made him lose his balance and fall awkwardly.


The height of the fall was only 1 metre. However, the consequences were severe. It is not clear why he stepped out onto the pipe. Perhaps he could not get down without doing so? Perhaps he was going to stand on the pipe before jumping down? Whatever the reason, the fact that he was so close to the ground may have given him a false sense of security with regard to the risk and consequences of a fall. Therefore, taking less care in selecting a footing, than if he had been at a greater height with a perceived greater risk.


Clearly, this accident serves to illustrate the fact that no matter what height you are working, a fall can have very serious consequences.


REMEMBER in your own interest when working at any height:

 •    Be careful.
•    Select the most appropriate means of access for the job.
•    Do not take short cuts.
•    Be aware of obstacles - remove them if possible.
•    Maintain a clean and tidy workplace.
•    Do not climb or work off a ladder unless you can hold on to it.
•    Be familiar with any risk assessments or method statements.
•    Thoroughly inspect any access equipment before use, make sure that all treads or rungs are secure.
•    Always carry and use a rope for securing a ladder.
•    Ensure all equipment is industrial quality. (Not domestic or DIY).
•    Do not use painted wooden ladders (paint may hide defects).
•    Follow your training.
•    Do not allow familiarity to breed contempt.



Last modified: Thursday, 4 July 2013, 9:44 AM