HSE accident stats

HSE releases latest accident stats

The latest accident stats issued by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) show that falls from height accounted for 23 of the 45 fatal injuries to construction workers in 2022/23.

Falls from height were also the most common cause of specified injuries in construction (32%). Meanwhile slips, trips or falls on the same level were responsible for the most over‐7‐day injuries (23%).

The seriousness of falls from height

Highlighting the seriousness of falls from height, in a recent prosecution a construction company in Kent was fined after a sub-contractor fell and died from his injuries.

The worker fell nearly two metres through an opening in a scaffold on 5 July 2017. It happened while working on the construction of six houses on Smarden Road in Headcorn, Kent.

He sustained several broken ribs and serious internal injuries including a punctured lung. He later died on 13 July 2017.

The man had been installing vertical hanging tiles on one of the new properties when he fell 1.8 metres through an unguarded opening in the scaffold and landed on the ground below.

An investigation by the HSE found Amberley Homes (Kent) Ltd, the principal contractor for the project, had not appointed a person with the necessary skills, knowledge, experience and training to manage the construction site.

The company had not ensured a safe working platform on the scaffold was maintained throughout the different phases of the project.

Access to and from the first lift working platform was unsafe as multiple openings had been made which could subsist for several weeks. The openings were unguarded and therefore there was a significant risk of falling circa 1.8 metres from the working platform.

Amberley Homes (Kent) Ltd did not control the site effectively. Its monitoring was ineffective as it did not act on concerns raised by its safety consultant when he raised the problems with site management.

HSE guidance states principal contractors must plan, manage, monitor and coordinate health and safety in the construction phase of a project. 

Guilty plea

Amberley Homes (Kent) Ltd entered a guilty plea to breaching Regulation 13(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 during a trial at in January 2024.

The company received a fine of £25,000 and had to pay £83,842.34 in costs.

HSE principal inspector Ross Carter said: “This tragic death could have been so easily avoided by implementing suitable site management to ensure that the scaffold was appropriately adapted by competent persons for the needs of the different sub-contractors.

“This case highlights that principal contractors should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those who fall below the required standards and do not plan, manage and monitor the construction phase effectively.”

Health and safety guidance

The CIP Construction Health and Safety Manual contains comprehensive guidance on both how to manage work at height safety, and the CDM Regulations.  Check out the latest guidance at www.cip-knowledge.com, one month free trials available by registering your details and choosing the Free trial option.