Guardrails help to prevent falls from roof edges, while walkovers can provide a safe access route on fragile roofs – and while both reduce the risk of an injury, the most important purpose they serve has got to be preventing the death of a worker.
In two cases reported in recent days by the HSE, the failure to install guardrails or walkovers, a lack of adequate safety ladders, and an absence of other fall prevention measures like man anchors all combined to cause the deaths of two individuals.
On January 29th 2012, a Lithuanian man working on roof refurbishment work in Blackburn fell almost eight metres, sustaining fatal injuries; the HSE found a previous fall from height at the site in which a Latvian man broke his leg had not been reported to them.
Just a few months later, on May 22nd 2012, a further fatality occurred, this time when a 44-year-old man fell through a fragile roof at a site in Tottenham, north London.
HSE inspector Chris Tilley said: “Falls from height continue to be the most common cause of fatality to workers and accounted for 29% of deaths reported to HSE in 2013/14 – meaning that 19 workers lost their lives in falls that were avoidable.”