WITH new statistics revealing the stark danger presented by falling objects (an issue which is being amplified by the UK’s increasingly extreme weather) Bureau Veritas is calling on the construction industry to ensure they have a robust dropped object prevention strategy in place.
While much health & safety focus is placed on mitigating the risk of falling at height, the reality is that the danger presented by falling objects from above is just as startling – accounting for 16% of all fatal accidents in the workplace, according to the latest Health & Safety Executive (HSE) statistics. This places ‘dropped objects’ in the top three of the UK’s workplace killers behind ‘falls from a height’ and ‘being struck by a moving vehicle.’
Karl Simpson, Managing Health & Safety Consultant at Bureau Veritas, commented: “Aside from being briefly mentioned in the ‘2005 Working at Height Regulation’, there is no still no specific legislation in the UK about falling object prevention. As such, it often isn’t treated with the same level of gravitas as other more obvious risks, such as falling from a height. Therefore, there can be a tendency for businesses to overlook the importance of drop prevention devices because they can be restrictive, while others may adopt a ‘one size fits’ all approach which doesn’t effectively cater for all objects.
“Yet, we must remember even a relatively small falling object from a height presents a very serious, life-threatening risk. To put it into context, a 500g object dropped from 15m has the same impact energy as a 75kg washing machine.”
“In terms of best practice, at Bureau Veritas we recommend that all industry sectors have a robust plan in place to alleviate this risk. When working with construction businesses, for example, we advise that all those working at height, whether on a roof or scaffold, tether tools and other items at source to prevent them falling to ground level.”
Adding to the issue is the UK’s increasingly inclement weather, whereby high winds and storms can increase chance of falling objects – and not just the obvious ones. This was demonstrated in a previous high-profile case where a member of the public was tragically struck and killed by a falling roof panel during a storm, with the company involved subsequently found to be in breach of health and safety laws.
Karl added: “The reality today is that the risk presented by falling objects can happen anywhere – particularly as adverse weather conditions become more the norm. That’s why it’s important that anybody with a building portfolio take steps to identify and mitigate risk from such occurrences – especially considering the current trend for usable roof terraces – covering everything from the specification of furniture through to the placement of utilities.”