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CONSIDERED by many to be one of the most significant developments in the work at height sector for at least a decade, the first inquiry report of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Working at Height (APPG) was published yesterday, the 26th of February 2019, at the Palace of Westminster. According to the Access Industry Forum (AIF), the report has implications for over a million UK businesses and the 10 million workers who are estimated to carry out some form of work at height every year.

Championed by PASMA, the not-for-profit body representing the international mobile access tower industry, the APPG – a group composed of members of Parliament from all political parties – launched its inquiry in January 2018 with a view to producing a set of recommendations  intended to reduce the overall number of falls.

The inquiry received over 60 responses from diverse sectors of the UK economy and held two oral evidence sessions in March and July 2018. Names such as Balfour Beatty, the City of London Corporation, the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), joined the voices of individuals who have faced the consequences of a fall from height in their desire to see improvements in height safety.

Launching the report, Alison Thewliss, MP for Glasgow Central and chair of the APPG on Working at Height, said: “In the past year alone, 35 families in the UK have been devastated by the loss of loved ones and many more will have had to deal with life-changing injuries.”

“These figures are too high. There should be no question or doubt over workers’ ability to return home safely to their families each evening. I hope that this report and the future work of the APPG, alongside government and industry, will help to bring about action to see these numbers drastically reduced, and ultimately down to zero. “

The recommendations of the report are:

  1. The introduction of enhanced reporting, without an additional burden, through RIDDOR – the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrence Regulations 1995 under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 – which, at a minimum, records the scale of a fall, the method used and the circumstances of a fall.
  2. The appointment of an independent body that allows confidential, enhanced and digital reporting of all near misses and accidents that do not qualify for RIDDOR reporting. The data collected by this independent body to be shared with both government and industry to inform health and safety policy.
  3. The extension of the ‘Working Well Together – Working Well at Height’ safety campaign to industries outside of the construction sector.
    These are currently part-funded by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) through seventeen regional ‘Working Well Together (WWT)’ Groups which deliver a range of free and low cost events to educate and inform small, micro and sole employee companies on the benefits of working safely.
  4. An equivalent system to Scotland’s Fatal Accident Inquiry (FAI) process to be extended to the rest of the UK. In Scotland, ministers are required under section 29 of the Inquiries into Fatal Accidents and Sudden Deaths (Scotland) Act 2016 to report on fatalities. Fatal Accident Inquiries (FAIs) are the legal mechanism through which deaths in the workplace are investigated.
  5. The creation of a digital technology strategy to include a new tax relief for small, micro and sole traders to enable them to invest in new technology.
  6. A major review of work at height culture. This should include an investigation into the suitability of legally binding financial penalties in health and safety – funds which could be used towards raising awareness and training, particularly in hard to reach sectors.

Falls from height still remain the single biggest cause of fatalities on site and in the workplace. The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Working at Height seeks to understand the root causes of falls from height and propose effective, practical measures to reduce the number of serious injuries and fatalities as a result of a fall from height.

Comments Alison Thewliss: Our inquiry and report marks the beginning of the APPG’s work. Working with industry and government we hope to make recommendations that will create a safer environment for the millions of people who work at height every day. 

For more information about the APPG visit www.workingatheight.info