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Saving lives by stopping falls In this feature, we learn more about the work of the No Falls Foundation.


We draft standards to regulate it, produce guidance on how to do it correctly, and even train people to carry it out safely, but falls resulting from working at height remain the single biggest cause of fatalities in the UK workplace.


In the 12 months to March 2020 – the latest confirmed figures available – 29 people died and there were 5214 non-fatal falls reported under RIDDOR (Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations). Significantly, it is estimated that only half of non-fatal accidents are actually reported, so the figures for falls from height are likely to be much higher.


British industry, in every sector, is usually pretty resourceful when it comes to solving problems, and that holds true when it encounters issues around working at height. Unfortunately, what it doesn’t always do is properly consider how that problem can be resolved safely. As the figures show, that failure can result in death or serious injury, with shattering consequences for the individual concerned, his or her family, and colleagues.


Health and Safety Executive (HSE) research – including accident investigations carried out by its own inspectors – shows that all accidents, including those involving working at height, result from failures in one or more of the following: planning, organisation, and management.


In the words of Ray Cooke: “It’s essential to take time and plan the work from the very start.”


Ray, a former Senior HSE inspector, is the Health and Safety advisor to the No Falls Foundation, the UK charity dedicated exclusively to preventing falls from height and helping people affected by the life-changing consequences of a fall. Supported and championed by the Access Industry Forum (AIF), the Foundation has three principal objectives: raising awareness of the risks, researching the causes of falls and providing advice and support to those affected by a fall.


The Foundation enthusiastically supports the work of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Working at Height, which brings together Parliamentarians, industry leaders


and trade associations to campaign on the issue of height safety. In May 2021, the APPG was pleased to hold its annual general meeting and a virtual business session. The focus for the session was the new campaign launched by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), ‘Discovering Safety’, which aims to deliver health and safety benefits through a ‘data-driven global community‘.


Guest speaker Sarah Newton, Chair of the HSE, explained to the APPG how, using data insights, HSE hopes to improve health and safety performance and reduce workplace deaths. Sarah explained that the success of the initiative will depend on partnerships with academia and industry, combining scientific expertise and knowledge, to ensure the HSE remains proactive rather than reactive. She encouraged attendees to get in touch with the HSE via the dedicated website to see how they can get involved.


The Foundation also continues to advocate its support for a more comprehensive system of recording falls from height – as recommended by the official inquiry report of the APPG – to better inform policy and decision making going forward. Work is currently underway on framing and developing a research project to investigate issues around current accident reporting and how enhanced reporting can assist.


Just launched by the charity is a Support and Information Pack, signposting those organisations and resources available to provide advice and assistance following a fall from height. The pack covers a wide range of topics. These include: what to do immediately; what financial assistance may be available; how to begin a personal injury claim; support with transport and home adaptations, using the No Falls Befriending Service; and organisations that can help with issues of mental health.


The charity’s manager, Hannah Williams, commented: “What should have been a perfectly normal day has ended in a potentially life-shattering accident. What do you do now? Who can you turn to? What help is available? The pack attempts to answer these questions and provides contact details for


38 | WINDOW CLEANING AND WORKING AT HEIGHT twitter.com/TomoCleaning


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