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Falling from Height – The Figures and Your Rights

Falling from height at work can lead to severe injuries which can have devastating and lasting effects. Find out if you have a workplace accident claim for falling from height at work. Falling_From_Height_PHR_site.jpg 

For many UK workers, working from height is a day-to-day activity which is required by their job. However, with working at height comes risk, with official statistics showing that falling from height is still one of the biggest causes of injury to workers in the UK.

What exactly does the law say on falling from height while at work, and are there more careers that are more at risk from falling than others? Here, we answer all of your questions in relation to falling at height while at work.

The figures – Falling from Height

Official figures from The Health and Safe Executive (HSE) show that falls from height accounted for 26% of all fatal workplace injuries between the period 2013/14 – 2017/18. This was by far the highest tally of fatal accidents compared to the other categories. In addition to this, there were 5,445 reported non-fatal accidents in the same time period.

Of those 26% fatal accidents, half came from the construction sector. Over 60% of the deaths from falls involved ladders, scaffolds, high platforms, roof edges and fragile roofs. 

Although there has been steady progress for health and safety in the workplace over the past decade or so, it is clear to see that there is a lot more work to be done to ensure the safety of UK workers, especially those who work at height.

Common Causes of Falls from Height

Inevitably, many UK workers will find themselves working from height from time to time. However, there are certain careers that are riskier than others, and care needs to be taken in particular for these roles.

High-risk professions in relation to working at height include:

  • Construction workers
  • Scaffolders
  • Roofers
  • Window cleaners
  • Warehouse workers

It is evident that construction sites are the most dangerous in relation to falling from height. This can often be down to poorly constructed scaffolding, a lack of training, slippery and cluttered surfaces, or faulty equipment.

Typically, using ladders and stepladders incorrectly, overstretching from ladders, standing on unsecure platforms and lack of proper equipment all feature highly in the most common causes of falling from height.

How, then, can employers minimise these accidents in the workplace?

How to Minimise Falls from Height

The HSE asks companies to first assess the risk before working at height. They suggest that factors to consider are:

  • The height of the task
  • The duration and frequency of the task
  • The condition of the surface being worked on

They also provide three simple steps to reduce the chance any falls from height – Avoid, Prevent, Minimise:

  • Avoid working at height where it is practical to do so
  • Prevent falls using an existing place of work that is safe or the right type of equipment
  • Minimise the distance and consequences of a fall

Risk assessments are vitally important in preventing accidents. Once an employer understands the potential risk, it is easier to reduce the possibility of an accident occurring. Very often, the full reality of a hazard only becomes apparent after a risk assessment has taken place.

What the Law says on Falling from Height

In relation to falling from height at work, the law holds employers responsible for completing these risk assessments within their workplace. Employers are also accountable for putting in place any relevant safety measures to protect their employees, at all times.

There are two bits of law which protect workers in this way –


  • The Work at Height Regulations 2005
    • Ensures minimum safety and health requirements for the use of equipment for working at height, also ensuring the need for the work to be properly planned and carried out by competent people

Under the law, employers need to adhere to strict rules and protocols surrounding working at height, ensuring that surfaces are dry and sturdy, that equipment is in good working condition, and that all employees who are working at height have received the appropriate training

If your employer has breached their duty of care in the workplace in relation to working at height, and you suffer from a fall, you may be able to make a personal injury claim. If the accident is more severe, a relative of the person who has died as a result of the accident can also seek compensation.

Your Next Steps

The key for any accident from height is to treat any fall as potentially serious, regardless of how you feel in the immediate aftermath. Straight after a fall you may be in shock, with adrenalin kicking in and masking how much pain you are in. There may also be no external cuts or bruises, but potentially more serious internal injuries.

You will need to log the accident in your employer’s accident book, creating a record of the events on the day. You should also endeavour to take photos at the scene of the accident, along with your injuries.

You will need to have a thorough check-up with a medical professional. Keep all of the medical records as they may help your claim for compensation further down the line.

How Percy Hughes & Roberts can help

After this, you will need to get in touch with a qualified personal injury solicitor to determine whether you can claim for compensation. This is where Percy Hughes & Roberts’ expert personal injury team come in.

Our team of fully regulated solicitors can help you secure compensation for your accident at height, recouping any lost earnings and paying for treatment fees and rehabilitation. We will handle your case with the utmost care.

You will have direct contact with your own personal solicitor who will regularly update you on the status of your case.

If you would like to contact one of the team, get in touch with our expert accidents at work solicitors today by calling the number at the top of the page or, alternatively, fill out our online form and one of our advisors will get back to you right away.

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