Norwich Union urges businesses not to become complacent when working at height

Article date: 20 August 2008

Working at height continues to be a major cause of death and injury at work - with 45 workers dying last year and a further 3,750 seriously injured1, according to Norwich Union, part of Aviva.

As part of its Simply Safety campaign, the insurer is warning businesses not to become complacent when working at height.

Phil Grace, liability risk manager at Norwich Union, says: "Despite the Work at Height Regulations 2005, businesses still seem oblivious to the risks involved and are often unwilling to put cheap and simple controls in place.

"Since the introduction of the regulations, responsibility lies with employers, the self-employed and any person supervising the work of others to minimise risk. These individuals are required to ensure that work at height is properly planned and organised.

"The regulations apply to all work at height where there is a risk of a fall liable to cause personal injury. This applies whether working at one or fifteen metres above the floor."

Working at height is an essential part of day-to-day life for many industries such as manufacturing and construction. However, Grace also notes that a high number of serious accidents occur from falling at "low height" - activity carried out close to the ground, such as unloading materials from a Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV).

According to Grace: "If working at height can be avoided it should. If it is not feasible to do this then measures to prevent a person from falling should be taken.

"Those involved in work at height should be competent to do so and receive proper training to operate any equipment. It is also vital that the equipment selected for working at height is appropriate to do the job and is maintained thoroughly.

"Where the risk of a fall cannot be eliminated, work equipment or other measures should be used to minimise the distance and consequence of a fall, should one occur."

Grace advises: "If appropriate, edge protection such as guardrails or nets can be installed for collective protection. In certain circumstances personal protective equipment can be used such as a work restraint system, harness or lanyard.

"Statistics indicate that incidents commonly result from poor management rather than equipment breakage or structural failure, so this emphasises the need for those responsible for ensuring worker safety to implement effective risk assessment," he concludes.

As part of Norwich Union's Simply Safety campaign, a downloadable guide is available at www.nurs.co.uk/ advising businesses on working at height.

A one-day working at height safety course run at companies' premises is offered by Norwich Union Risk Services. For more information visit: www.nurs.co.uk/.

-ends-

For further information, please contact:
Alex Anderson at Staniforth, Alex.Anderson@staniforth.co.uk or 0161 919 8021/07779 162583 or Sally Leeman at Norwich Union on 01603 684225/07789 270677.

Notes to editors:

1 www.hse.gov.uk/falls/

Norwich Union is the UK's largest general insurer with a market share of around 15%, with a focus on insurance for individuals and small businesses.

It is a leading provider of life, pensions and investment products and one of the largest financial adviser (FA) providers. FAs provide over 70% of the company's long-term savings business in the UK.

In the summer of 2009 Norwich Union will change its name to Aviva. Aviva is the world's fifth largest insurance group and operates in 27 countries. Aviva is to become the customer brand worldwide, thus enabling the company to compete even more effectively on a global scale for the benefit of customers, staff, business partners and shareholders.

Norwich Union's news releases and a selection of images are available from Aviva's internet press centre at www.aviva.com/media

Back to top