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Four NI fall from height fatalities in 2020

23 March 2020

HSENI HAVE announced that there have been four fatalities as a result of falls from height since the beginning of January 2020.

Falls from height remain one of the biggest causes of death, disability and injury in construction and are of great concern to HSENI.

These tragic cases underscore the dangers of falling inside a building under construction and the critical importance of providing internal fall protection when working at heights.

Many contractors have got to grips with external fall protection by using perimeter scaffolding and Mobile Elevating Work Platforms (MEWPs) etc. On the other hand some don't appreciate the need for internal fall protection when carrying out work at height, such as:

  • stripping, dismantling and refurbishing roofs
  • installing joists or roof trusses
  • dismantling or installing roof sheets and side panelling on commercial buildings
  • fixing battens or tile supports and roof tiles
  • installing concrete floor slabs or stairs
  • working near or over fragile surfaces
  • working adjacent to voids in the roof and floor

Principal designers must work with other designers at the pre-construction stage to eliminate foreseeable health and safety risks from internal falls, and where that is not possible, take steps to reduce or control those risks. For example it may be possible for designers to utilise elements of the final structure during the construction phase, e.g. by installing the permanent stairs early in the build to reduce the need for scaffolding or temporary access.

The Health and Safety Executive (GB) has produced a guidance document - 'HSG 33 - Health and Safety in Roof Work' which can be downloaded free of charge at the following link:

HSENI strongly recommends you obtain a copy of this guidance document as it illustrates good practice and how to achieve compliance with the law.

Falls from height remain one of the most common causes of work-related injuries in this country and the risks associated with working at height are well known. Work at height will be a standing item on all construction inspections where relevant.

The means to ensure workers are safe when working at height are well documented and easily available and we urge the industry to act now to prevent further deaths and serious injuries.