Risk from Falls

Published: 6 May 2021

Falls from height are the third highest cause of fatal injuries in the food and drink industry, which makes up around 20 % of fatal accidents.  Statistics reveal that within the industry around 80 major injuries are sustained due to falls from height, injuries ranging from broken bones and fractured skulls.

Serious injuries a can be the result of a fall from less than 2m. This poses a serious risk to members of the public and employees if high risk areas as such are not managed correctly.

A recent incident involving a guest at a hotel in Wales resulted in the business being fined £80,000 because of life changing injuries that were sustained.

The railings were damaged/ missing in one location of the car park. Failings on the management of the poorly maintained railings meant that the woman fell 6 feet from ground level down to a basement. The fall resulted in two spinal fractures, a broken big toe, blood on the lungs due to sternum and rib fractures, a head injury, concussion, and trauma.

One failing highlighted by Sefton Council was the businesses inability to demonstrate that a system was in place to check and maintain the damaged railings. A risk assessment had been prepared but did not address the hazard/  risk presented and failed to mention damaged railings as a part of the assessment.

It was made apparent that the business had a previous incident surrounding the damaged railings, to which they failed to make the appropriate changes following what happened. It was also noted that repeated breaches were made and had been allowed to continue over long periods of time.

As a part of any health and safety management system, regular checks are to be made on various things such as, dangerous equipment, access equipment (ladders and step ladders, etc) and high risk areas of the business that may be temporary or permanent.

The checks should be completed weekly, depending on the check required. For example,  in this case the railings should have been checked and inspected daily to ensure that any measures that had been implemented had not been tampered with.

Despite not being an employee of the business, Britannia was fined under the Health and safety at work act for the failings that lead to the accident.

How to manage the fall from height risk

When presented with a risk of a fall from height public safety should be at the forefront of managing the risk. All persons are at risk of injury regardless of their age or vulnerability status. To assist in managing this type of hazard the following must be implemented/ applied:

  • Assess the area in question and make safe
  • Complete a risk assessment to establish immediate control measures
  • Implement the controls
  • Review the controls to determine their effectiveness
  • Evaluate the findings of the risk assessment once the controls have been applied and reviewed
  • On going checks and maintenance of the area are to be completed daily

For support and advice contact CSC