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Falls from height remain leading cause of workplace fatalities

Falls from height remain the leading cause of fatal accidents in UK workplaces, according to new figures released by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) yesterday.

In the past year alone, 29 people have died following a fall from height at work. While this represents a reduction from 40 in 2018/19, we acknowledge that there is more work still to be done here and we are disappointed to see that falls from height remain the main cause of fatal accidents in the workplace. 29 people left for work and did not return home following a fall from height. We all know that's 29 too many.

For us here at the Ladder Association, these statistics spur us on to keep promoting height safety. Our ambition is to see everyone who works at height going home safely at the end of the working day. The HSE 's latest report, while highlighting both a reduction in overall workplace fatalities (111 workers killed in 2019/20, down from 147 in 2018/19) and a reduction in the number of fatal falls from height, makes for sombre reading and reminds us that there's still progress to be made.

As the not-for-profit lead industry body dedicated to promoting the safe use of ladders and stepladders, we take this opportunity to again urge all ladder users, and those responsible for managing the safe use of ladders, to put ladder safety at the top of their height safety agenda.

It is imperative that anyone using ladders or stepladders determines if a ladder is both suitable for the work task and in a safe condition before use, that the work is properly planned and managed, and that it is carried out by a competent person.

Here at the Ladder Association, we strongly believe training is an important contribution in keeping people safe when working at height and that training is about more than just using the ladder; it's about understanding when it's right to use a ladder (and importantly when it's not), choosing the right ladder and then understanding the simple steps to take to use the ladder safely.

We continue to raise awareness of the need for ladder training through our award-winning 'Get a Grip' on ladder safety campaign. Our campaign message is clear, 'When it's right to use a ladder, use the right ladder and get trained to use it safely.'

In addition, always check that you are using ladders that comply with safety regulations. In the case of portable ladders (step, extending and combination), they must meet the current BS EN 131 standard. Our website details the current ladder standards.

Speaking more generally about work at height, we must reiterate our support for the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Working at Height chaired by Alison Thewliss MP. The 'Staying Alive' report they published last year followed widespread public consultation and contains six recommendations for how regulation could be improved to prevent more fatalities and serious injuries. These latest figures are further evidence for why the APPG's work is so important. In our view, it's essential that their recommendations become reality. For the sake of the millions who work at height every day, the sooner the better.

For more details on the HSE statistics for 2019/20, please read the full report.

Please also support the No Falls Foundation, the first and only UK-based charity dedicated to preventing falls from height and helping people affected by the consequences of a fall.