Whether you accidentally step through a skylight on a fragile roof or just lose your balance on an upturned bucket, a fall from height on farm can be fatal.
Over the last five years, falls from height have accounted for almost a fifth of all fatal injuries in agriculture, the second most common cause.
Those lucky enough to survive often suffer painful injuries, such as broken bones, which can also cost farmers their time and money.
The good news is that most fall injuries can be avoided by following some general advice and specific guidance for different kinds of work.
Most importantly, the law says that you must always follow these rules in the order given when working at height:
- Avoid work at height where you can; and if not
- Use work equipment or measures to prevent falls; and if not
- Reduce the distance and consequences of a fall should one occur
Many fatal falls from height on farm involve working on roofs and there are a number of key messages to remember when planning this kind of work:
- Take account of weather conditions such as light levels, ice, wind and rain
- Most types of fibre cement roofs will be fragile. Roof lights are fragile
- No one must ever work on or from, or walk over, fragile roofs unless platforms, covers or similar are provided which will adequately support their weight
- Fix a prominent permanent warning notice at the approach to any fragile roof
The Health and Safety Executive have set out more detailed guidance on roof work as well as guidance on other types of work at height, such as working on bales, scaffolds and ladders, here.
Guidance is also available from CallFirst on 0370 845 8458.