APPG Considers Calls for Clearer Work at Height Accident Reporting

THE ALL Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Working at Height met this week at the House of Commons to discuss clearer reporting of workplace accidents in a bid to save lives.

While the government was busy in Parliament ensuring votes for its Rwanda Bill, work at height stakeholders considered the sobering number of accidents and fatalities reported in the latest annual Health & Safety Executive (HSE) statistics.

Causes of Workplace Accidents

Meeting on Tuesday 12 December 2023, and led by Alison Thewliss MP, chairing the APPG, the group discussed creating a simplified system of reporting to enable identifying the causes of workplace accidents. Once this information is known, it is hoped that targeted measures can be implemented to prevent falls from height.

A number of stakeholders spoke at the APPG meeting. Stephen Green MP set out the context, pointing out that the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) were last updated in 2013.

Sarah Batchelor from the National Farmers Union discussed the difficulties of changing health and safety cultures in the agricultural sector, in which most work at height fatalities occur. She pointed to the unique pressures that tempt farmers to carry out work on fragile roofs, the most common type of fatality in this sector. Sarah spoke about initiatives underway to encourage young farmers to intercede with their elders before going on roofs and to ‘Take five to save lives’, encouraging farmers to review the risks and plan working at height safely.

Luke Collins from UNITE then spoke about the union’s work with employers to cascade safety information to its members.

No Falls Week 13-17 May 2024

Reminding the meeting of what is at stake, Hannah Williams, Charity Manager of the No Falls Foundation spoke of the long lasting, life changing impact a fall can have on the victim and their family. She announced a new initiative called No Falls Week which will take place 13-17 May 2024.

Peter Bennett OBE, the Access Industry Forum Chair, discussed the lack of improvement in the numbers of falls and fatalities from working at height. He noted that the numbers reported in HSE statistics are the tip of a much larger iceberg. HSE’s figures are estimated to account for only 30% of accidents, with self-employed people only reporting an estimated 12% of accidents under RIDDOR.

Peter’s main point was that very little information is currently provided on the circumstances around both non-fatal and fatal incidents – meaning that it is difficult to put measures in place to make work at height safer.

Clive Dickin, CEO of the National Access and Scaffolding Confederation (NASC) spoke about the important impact digitising TG20 (a set of scaffold design rules) has had on safety in his sector. Combined with using virtual reality for training and controlling access to sites via training certification, Clive argued digitalisation could be pivotal in improving work at height.

Tony Seddon from the Fall Arrest Safety Equipment Training (FASET) relayed the online training successes the association had had, educating a wide variety of people in basic safety processes, from window cleaners to roofers. The association is now focussing on training dutyholders for temporary and suspended access.

Lastly, Steve O’Brian from Lang O’Rourke spoke about how Powered Access Licence (PAL) cards have revolutionised safety on the main contractor’s sites since they were introduced four years ago.

The APPG meeting was followed by a festive drinks reception in the House of Commons Jubilee Room.

>> Read more about working at height in the news

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