Don’t rely on luck: it will run out

By Jason Godfrey, Safesite General Manager

It’s a common proclamation when it comes to health and safety discussion: I’ve done it this way for years and never had an accident. Why should I change now?

So sometimes I don’t always tie my ladder down. What’s the harm? It gets the job done quicker and works just fine without it.

Edge protection? No problem, I’m not that clumsy, I’ll be fine.

Let’s be honest for a minute: we’ve all had these thoughts. You’ve been doing things your way for years and your luck has held up just fine, why would it change now?

Unfortunately, the thing about luck is, it runs out. You simply can’t rely on chance to do the job of effective, fully certified equipment and proper site etiquette.

Ignoring health and safety advice – and in some cases, legal requirements – is even riskier when it comes to work at height. One in every 12 recordable injuries in Britain’s workplaces are the result of a fall. Low and high falls kill and seriously injure hundreds of people and account for around 700,000 working days being lost each year.

Time and again inspectors see people working on roofs or scaffolding without appropriate safeguards, such as edge protection, fall prevention equipment or harnesses. Falls from height have long been the most common cause of workplace fatalities.

The lesson is clear: just because you’ve done something a hundred times without any problems, doesn’t mean it won’t all go wrong on the hundred and first go, leading to serious injury or worse.

Following simple HSE guidance can save you a lot of trouble in the long run. And in fact, it’s so simple, we can sum it up in 5 points:

> Ensure all work at height is properly planned and organised;

> That those involved in work at height are competent;

> That the risks from work at height are assessed, and appropriate work equipment is selected and used;

> That the risks of working on or near fragile surfaces are properly managed;

> And that the equipment used for work at height is properly inspected and maintained.

Though it might take a little bit of extra effort, and cost you a little bit more in the short term, you – and others around you – will be much safer and better off.

Don’t rely on luck, because it will run out.

Shattered Lives‘ image courtesy of HSE.

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