We often report about the risks of working at height, and especially on roofs, where a lack of guardrails can lead to falls from the edge, while fragile skylights can also give way underfoot.
But you might not expect to face a substantial fall risk when stepping through the front door of a property under construction or renovation.
That is exactly what inspectors from the HSE found on St Dionis Road, London, where the front door was the only way to enter and exit a building that was being worked on.
Behind the door – with no guardrails or edge protection of any kind – there was a 3.5m pit accessible via ladder, and which equally concerningly had no reinforcement to prevent it collapsing inwards on the man found working at the bottom.
He was told to evacuate the pit immediately, and following a hearing, the construction company carrying out the work was fined £40,000 for two breaches of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015, with nearly £1,500 in costs as well.
The HSE report said: “The excavation was approximately 3.5 metres deep with no means of shoring to support the sides of the excavation and no edge protection around the top to stop persons, materials or objects falling into it.”
Although it may be tempting to skimp on using guardrails during temporary work, it is still important to include edge protection around an open pit, particularly one several metres deep.
Man anchors offer an alternative, tethering individuals to a safe fixed point so that they cannot fall an unsafe distance – or at all, ideally.
Remember, any fall is relative – it can start at ground level, but still cause serious injury if the landing is several metres below – and there is no substitute for safe working practices and proper edge protection from the outset.