Heatlh & Safety Falls or Falling Objects in the Workplace

Falls or Falling Objects

Risk Of Falling And Risk Of Being Hit By A Falling Object

So far as is reasonably practicable, suitable and effective safeguards are required against any person falling a distance likely to cause personal injury, or any person being struck by a falling object likely to cause personal injury.

Any area must be clearly indicated where there is such a risk of someone falling or being hit by a falling object. However, other safety measures are generally required since the safeguards must, so far as is reasonably practicable, include measures other than information, instruction, training, supervision or personal protective equipment.

Risk Of Falling Into A Dangerous Substance

Higher standards of protection are required if people could fall into a dangerous substance.

So far as is practicable, every tank, pit or structure must be securely covered or fenced where there is a risk of someone falling into a dangerous substance. This requirement must be met if it is technically feasible since it applies "so far as is practicable". Thus, cost cannot be considered as it could if the requirement were to apply "so far as is reasonably practicable".

The fencing of a tank, pit or structure (whether the fencing is its sides or a barrier) must be to a height of at least 1100mm above the highest point from which someone could fall in.

A cover to a tank, pit or structure must be capable of supporting all loads and traffic liable to be placed or carried on it. The cover must also be secure so that it cannot be accidentally displaced or inadvertently detached or removed.

To prevent falls into dangerous substances, the requirement for fencing is absolute where a traffic route runs over, across or in an uncovered tank, pit or structure. Thus, a technical solution has to be found even if this means substantial re-design and works to enable the requirement to be met.

Permanent Fencing

Fencing should be of sufficient strength and stability to restrain any person or object liable to fall on to it or against it. Un-tensioned chains, ropes or other non-rigid materials should not be used.

Where there is a risk of someone falling, secure fencing should be provided generally where a person could fall 2 metres or more. However, where the risk is greater -- such as where injuries could be serious should someone fall onto sharp edges or people, or into the path of a vehicle, or where the presence of others could increase the likelihood of a fall -- secure fencing should be used to prevent falls of less than 2 metres.

Where there is a risk of someone being hit by a falling object, fencing should prevent objects falling from the edge of a surface. The use of upstands or toeboards should be provided where necessary.

Temporary Fencing

Temporary removal of fencing or covers will sometimes be necessary. The employer should adopt strict safe working methods and control procedures for their removal, for operations whilst they are removed and for their replacement. Replacement should be made as soon as possible.

Risk of Falling and Falling Objects from Ladders and Steep Stairways

Use of fixed ladders (which includes steep stairways) can pose high risks of people falling or falling objects. Fixed ladders should not be provided where it would be practicable to install a staircase.

Where provision of a fixed ladder is necessary it should be of sound construction, properly maintained and securely fixed. Adequate handholds should be available. Landings or other adequate resting places should be provided at least every 6 metres. Where possible, ladder runs between resting places should be out of line to reduce the distance a person might fall. Steep runs between 75 and 90 degrees which are more than 2.5 metres high should, where possible, be fitted with safety hoops or permanently fixed fall arrest systems.

Risk Of Falling During Roof Work

Any roof work requires effective precautions against falls from edges or through fragile materials. Where regular access is needed to roofs there should be fixed physical safeguards for edges and materials. Materials should be regarded as fragile unless there is firm evidence to the contrary.

Where only occasional access is needed to roofs, other safeguards may suffice such as crawling boards. In all cases, fragile roofs or surfaces should be clearly identified.

Risk Of Falling Between Floor Levels

Changes of level which are not obvious, such as steps between floors, should be conspicuously marked.

Risk Of Falls Of Stored Items

Falls of stored materials and objects should be prevented with adequate precautions over the method of storing and stacking, and over the strength and stability of racking.

Risk of Falling when Climbing on Vehicles

To prevent falls during the loading or unloading of vehicles, the need for people to climb on top of vehicles or loads should be avoided where possible. Gantries should be fenced where necessary. Where climbing on vehicles or loads is unavoidable, safety lines and harnesses should be provided and used.