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Amongst the many “hurt at work?” ads on the TV, there is one that grates. A workman installs an alarm system, and states that he was “given the wrong type of ladder” to do his job. The picture shows a wooden ladder leaning against the wall with said workman standing at the top, and about to use an electric drill. The next image is ladder and drill and workman in a crumpled heap on the floor. Finally, recovered from his ordeal, the workman is clutching a cheque in payment for his injuries received. Job done.
I have no issue with a payout for an accident. Accidents at work do happen – but how many are avoidable? The statistics for “falling from height” at work are horrific. In 2007/08, according to the HSE 58 people died at work from falling from height.
Over 1100 reportable injuries were also recorded as falls from ladders. Some of the injuries will have been catastrophic and life-changing for the injured party, their family and the business involved.
Proper training is crucial to ensure that this appalling death and injury rate is reduced. This means employers need to ensure a proper risk assessment is made and the correct and appropriately maintained equipment is used.
It also means employees should be properly trained. And if you are an employer (or employee) and think it is ridiculous to train people in how to use a ladder you should know that 16 of the previously mentioned 58 deaths resulted from a fall from a ladder.
Back to my point though. The reason the TV ad annoys is because it suggests the only reason the workman could make a claim was because he was “given the wrong type of ladder”. It does not mention training or risk assessments, but simply the wrong tools for the job.
Yet all employees, assuming training has been provided, are supposed `to share the responsibility for health & safety’. If the workman knew he was given the wrong type of ladder, why did he use it?
All training for `working at height’ should include an introduction in how to assess equipment prior to its use. PUWER (Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998) requires that all equipment must be suitably marked and maintained. If trained on `working at height’, an employee should be advised what markings to look for on the equipment; how to assess if the ladder should be used; what to report in case of damage and so on.
Instead, the inference is that this workman was given the wrong type of ladder and that was the only reason he could make a claim. What do you think?
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