MORE THAN 150 delegates from all over the UK attended the second national working at height conference of the Access Industry Forum (AIF) – the forum for the principal trade associations and federations involved in work at height – at the AJ Bell Stadium in Salford on 14 November 2019.

With the focus firmly on height safety, delegates heard from 13 different speakers on the latest trends and developments in working at height, which included the official launch of ’Safety Steps’, a new initiative from CONIAC aimed at designers, clients, managers, supervisors and operatives – now hosted on the AIF website. 

Introduced by Peter Bennett OBE, chair of the AIF, and chaired by Dr Shaun Lundy, Visiting Scholar at the University of Greenwich, the morning session addressed a wide range of topics including the latest falls from height statistics published by the HSE, the implications of a changing workforce, and the need for mental health awareness when managing access and working at height.

Illustrated by four case studies, ‘A fall from height: Counting the cost’ examined the potential legal consequences of a fall from height, while ’Safe @ work Safe @ home’ underlined the importance of height safety in both the workplace and in the home.

The afternoon session featured Peter Bennett and conference chair Dr Shaun Lundy ’in conversation’ about the work and role of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Working at Height. In particular, the inquiry report of the APPG published earlier this year calling for more comprehensive RIDDOR reporting.

The importance of designing for access came next, followed by an insight into the increasing use of virtual reality for working at height training. 

The afternoon session continued with an in-depth look at working at height in the farming sector – which, after construction, accounts for more fatalities than any other activity – and how the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) is tackling this serious issue.

The conference ended with a panel discussion chaired by Hannah Williams of the No Falls Foundation with Jason Anker MBE, Paul Blanchard and Dylan Skelhorn – ambassadors of the charity – during which they discussed the role of the Foundation and how its work is set to help others facing the consequences of a fall from height.

The conference was supported by an impressive line-up of exhibitors drawn from the working at height sector, who each made their own individual contribution to the success of the event and are committed – like the AIF and No Falls Foundation – to ‘Saving lives by stopping falls’.

Comments Chris Kendall, chair of the AIF Conference Committee: “This was our second national conference and, like the first, brought together an exceptional group of expert speakers to address the issues and topics set to shape the future of working at height.”

“The Forum is uniquely placed to deliver these events. Each member organisation represents a different aspect of the access industry and fosters and supports codes of good practice, equipment standards, training, education and knowledge.”